The Spirit of Europe

The Trust held a conference on The Spirit of Europe in association with with the Écoles des Hautes Études Internationales et Politiques (Paris), the European Institute of Personalism and the Revue Politique et Parlementaire at the University of Kent, Canterbury.


Below is the final conference programme and the list of speakers:

The Spirit of Europe:

Federalism, personalism and subsidiarity

7-8 December 2018

University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Friday 7th December 2018: Darwin Conference Suite (Darwin College, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NY)

0830 –  0900   Coffee and registration

0900 –0915     Welcome and introduction: Adrian Pabst (Kent)

0915 – 1045    Session 1. Europe in question: identity, purpose and meaning

Moderator: Adrian Pabst (Kent)

Speakers: Robin Degron (Sorbonne); Régis Passerieux (Refondation); Arleen Westerhof (Economic Summit)

1045 – 1115   Coffee

1115 – 1315    Session 2. Personalism: the legacy of interwar and post-war Europe for today

Moderator: Philippe de Roux (Eau et Vie)

Speakers: Philip Boobyer (Kent); John Milbank (Nottingham); Emmanuel Morucci (Brest)

1315 – 1400    Lunch

1400 – 1530   Session 3. (Con-)Federalism and the European project

Moderator: Adrian Pabst (Kent)

Speakers: Lord Glasman (Common Good Foundation); Richard Sakwa (Kent); Arleen Westerhof (Economic Summit)

1530 – 1600   Tea

1600 – 1730  Session 4. Keynote Lecture by Sir Larry Siedentop (Oxford): “The Three Europes”

Moderator: James Noyes (UCL)

Panel discussion with John Milbank (Nottingham), Adrian Pabst (Kent) and Régis Passerieux (Refondation)

1730 – 1830   Drinks reception

1900 – 2200  Dinner (Darwin College)


Saturday 8 December 2018: Woolf Lecture Theatre (Woolf College, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NZ)

0900 – 1100  Session 5. Subsidiarity and the future of the EU and the wider Europe

Moderator: James Noyes (UCL)

Speakers: Emanuele Errichiello (Kent); Ron Ivey (Rembrandt Collective; Christophe Jadeau (Refondation); Dominique Mounier (Refondation); Neil Turnbull (Nottingham Trent)

1100 – 1130  Coffee

1130 – 1300  Session 6. Europe, Ecology and Religion

Moderator: Adrian Pabst (Kent)

Speakers: Pierre Dedenys (EIOP); Paul Piccarreta (Revue Limite); Philippe de Roux (Eau et Vie); Sara Silvestri (City, University of London, and Cambridge)

1300 – 1400  Lunch

1400 – 1600  Session 7. Roundtable discussion on Building a (new) European Movement

Panellists include: Paul Piccarreta (Revue Limite) and Manon des Portes (Refondation)

1600 – 1630  Tea and departure


List of speakers and invited participants

Bert, Orane, Paris

Boobyer, Philip, Reader in History, University of Kent

Cottalorda, Agnès, Member of the Board, Refondation

 Degron, Robin, Professor of Public Finance, University of Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne; Conseiller référendaire de la Cour des comptes

Errichiello, Emanuele, Student, University of Kent

Glasman, Maurice, Life Peer (Labour Party); Director, Common Good Foundation; Visiting Fellow, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

Grace, David, Honorary Secretary, Board of Trustees, The James Madison Charitable Trust

Ivey, Ron, Rembrandt Collective, Paris

Jadeau, Christophe, Member of the Board, Refondation

Jullien, Grégory, Adviser, European Parliament

Koegler, Michel, President, European Institut of Personalism

Milbank, John, Emeritus Professor of Religion, Ethics and Politics, University of Nottingham

Morucci, Emmanuel, Professor of Sociology, University of Brest; Member of the ‘Team Europe-France’ network

Mounier, Dominique, European Business Manager & Negotiation Consultant; Member of Refondation

Noyes, James, Fellow, University College London

Pabst, Adrian, Reader in Politics and Head of the School of Politics and International Relations; Director, Centre for Federal Studies, University of Kent; Trustee, The James Madison Charitable Trust

Passerieux, Régis, Visiting Professor, Écoles des Hautes Études Internationales et Politiques; Secretary General, Refondation; former mayor and secretary general for internationalisation in the French Socialist Party

Piccarreta, Paul, Editor, Revue Limite

Des Portes, Manon, Deputy Secretary General, Refondation

de Roux, Philippe, Director, Eau & Vie (NGO)

Sakwa, Richard, Professor of Russian and Eastern European Politics, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent; Associate Fellow, Chatham House

Siedentop, Larry, Professor of Political Thought and Tutorial Fellow in Politics, Keble College, University of Oxford; author of Democracy in Europe (2000) and Inventing the Individual (2014)

 Silvestri, Sara, Senior Lecturer, City, University of London; Affiliated Lecturer, POLIS Department, University of Cambridge; Bye-Fellow, St Edmund’s College

Sladen, Angus, Honorary Treasurer, Board of Trustees, The James Madison Charitable Trust

Thebault, Nicholas, Paris

Turnbull, Neil, Principal Lecturer in Philosophy, Nottingham Trent University

Westerhof, Arleen, Founder and Executive Director, Economic Summit, The Netherlands

Joe Williams, Student, University of Kent


Conference context and theme

Brexit and recent elections in various EU member-states highlight deep divisions over the European project. While there is a rising tide of scepticism vis-à-vis the integration process and the Eurozone more specifically, certain parts of the population are also increasingly supportive of Europe, notably younger people. One common concern is that the EU institutions (including national governments as part of the European Council and the councils of ministers) are remote and insufficiently accountable to citizens. Beyond important institutional issues, this raises fundamental questions about the legitimacy and the identity of Europe in general and the EU in particular. What is its purpose? How might we think about the ‘spirit’ that animates the European project in an age of anger and alienation?

Historically, two traditions that shaped the post-war European process of reconciliation were federalism and personalism. The former emphasises the separation and distribution of power between different levels (local, regional, national and European), while the latter focuses on foundational values, such as the dignity of the person, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. One idea they share is the principle of subsidiarity: locating decision-making at the lowest possible level in accordance with personal dignity and agency. Arguably, there are powerful forces today that undermine federalism, personalism and subsidiarity – including globalisation, technocratic governance and individualism. The EU has mitigated some of these forces, but nevertheless power and wealth seem to flow upwards. In turn, this raises further fundamental questions: in what ways do federalism and personalism still shape Europe today? If their influence has declined, could and should their influence be renewed? If so, how? What might be the political, institutional and cultural conditions for such a renewal?

The proposed conference will explore these and related questions. Based on a keynote address and a number of papers by scholars and (former) politicians, the conference will also involve students in the discussions – on individual panels and in plenary debate.


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