Europe is trying to find its place in this rapidly changing global age, just like America and the new Asian powers. What are its chances of securing its achievements of peace, stability, prosperity, and a relatively important geopolitical status? And why do many think that Europe, this part of the world that was once so mighty, now resembles a fragile old lady looking in the mirror and thinking of the good old days? Is there any truth to what these doomsayers claim?

The challenges that Europe faces are like an onion with three separate but enwrapped layers. The external layer of the European onion consists of global challenges. These include growing international competition, the emergence and improving performance of competitors, the shifting balance of power, and the danger of giving the wrong (protectionist) answers to globalization. The middle—pan-European—layer contains problems that affect all of Europe but are not linked to the EU's decisionmaking, regulatory, or institutional issues. These include the sustainability of the European model, poor competitiveness and productivity, the aging population, social tensions caused by immigration, and increased energy dependency. Finally, the inner layer is the EU layer itself—the challenges related to European integration and the European Union. Basically, these are problems linked to the EU's institutions, decisionmaking procedures, and lawmaking, and thus to the political uncertainties surrounding the future of the "European project."

Europeans can no longer avoid asking these kinds of questions: Is globalization and the "Asian menace" something of which Europe should be wary, or whether deglobalization would be more damaging? Will the euro disappear? Will Europe be able to overcome the financial and economic crisis? Why is competitiveness falling on the continent, and how can this trend be reversed? What will happen to the European social model? Is the aging European population really a disastrous problem, and will Europe just die out? Is immigration the only cure for an aging Europe? Is there a need for a European Constitution and, if so, who needs it? Why would Europeans think of Europe and the EU as their own? Do Europeans need European integration at all? Why do they think that the EU does not function properly? What number should one dial if one wants to talk with Europe? Will there ever be a political union, a United States of Europe? How far can Europe enlarge without collapsing like history's great empires? Is it a realistic fear that, in a few decades' time, Europe will have become an open air museum on the axis of modernization and growth, midway between the United States and Asia? Or will Europe become an important player in the new world order? Is Europe's aspiration to become the leading rule setter for the postcrisis era realistic, or should it be happy to survive the crisis and remain relatively stable as a bloc? Having asked these questions, one can pose the most important question of all: What will have become of Europe in fifty years' time? And, as corollaries: Will Europe be able to lead the world by example, or will it sink without hope in the stormy high seas of history?

Attila Marjan's book, 'Europe's Destiny – The Old Lady and the Bull' takes a thorough look at these questions and gives thought-provoking and disquieting answers to them.

This event will take place in the 5th floor conference room.


  • Attila Marjan

    Public Policy Scholar
  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project