The participants of the panel discussion included Director-General of the House of Terror Museum Dr. Mária Schmidt; former Deputy PM for European Affairs of the Czech Republic Alexandr Vondra; Senior Research Fellow of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association Tomáš Strážay; and former Vice President of the EPP Mário David. The discussion was moderated by the Director of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade Márton Schőberl.
“The European Union is outdated,” Mária Schmidt said as she kicked off the debate. “It was created as a Cold War project, but since the Cold War has ended it’s time to reconsider its role and current situation,” she added.
Schmidt said that the present century is not a continuation of the former and anyone who relies on the experiences of the 20th century to predict 21st century events “is inherently wrong.” She says Europe must improve its relationship with the US, because “the US is still the ruler of the world.”
Alexandr Vondra said that the West is now being challenged by three factors: rising powers like China and India, globalization and the “incremental weakness coming from within.” Although the slogan of the Lisbon Treaty was to ’make Europe a global player’, he said, “now we are losing the United Kingdom”, along with its military might, business appeal and English as a common language.
Mário David, however, sees the future of the EU in an even darker light. “This could be the beginning of the disintegration and the end of the EU,” the former EPP vice president said. He added that all we have to do to avoid this is to respect the will of the people and the will of sovereign states. He said “enlargement is the key word” when we are talking about the future of Europe. “Let’s not be hypocrites, where would the 13 member states be without new ones joining?” he asked.
“The V4 is like the castle of Visegrád,” Tomáš Strážay said, adding that the circumstances have always been changing, “But the cooperation is still here, it’s still solid and is in good shape,” he said. The senior researcher added that the V4 was never intended to become a competitive group with the EU. “The V4 is inside the EU and is willing to remain in the EU,” he said. Strážay added that this notion will also appear in the slogan of the upcoming Slovak V4 presidency: ‘Dynamic Visegrád in Europe’.