On 1 March 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented his White Paper on the Future of Europe in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.
Six decades after the establishment of the European Economic Community, Europe is facing many challenges regarding financial and economic crises, the impact of new technologies on society and labour markets, security concerns, migration pressures, Brexit and the rise of populism, which puts the European idea and values under scrutiny.
The White Paper looks at how Europe might change over the next decade and spells out the choice between being swept along by those developments or embracing them and seizing the new opportunities they bring. It points out that countries will have to work closely together to achieve more and outlines five scenarios on how to do this, concluding that no matter what the cooperation model will be, Europe's prosperity is likely to depend on openness and strong links with partners.
While the White Paper is addressed to heads of states and governments, it ignores the importance of participation of citizens and societal actors such as universities in shaping the future of Europe. Universities are key in addressing Europe’s challenges. They are motors of economic recovery, educating future generations and leaders of tomorrow. They deliver cutting-edge research and develop solutions to current scientific and societal challenges. They play an important role in building societies, transmitting cultural heritage and European values, as well as fostering social inclusion and forging relations with other parts of the world.
Together with its members, EUA will continue reflecting on the role of universities for the future of European integration, the impact of the European governance model on universities as well as the role of the Association in this context. The next occasion for this reflection will be the EUA Council meeting in April in Bergen, Norway in the context of the EUA Annual Conference.