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Political and Legal Symposium


Liberty and security are integral to our democracy. The democratic state is tasked with guaranteeing the security of its citizens without jeopardising their individual liberties. Where the right balance lies between liberty and security is something politicians have to decide on the basis of fundamental and human rights and then implement in law. Finding this balance and consistently reassessing it is a recurrent challenge for liberal democracies.

Who or what is behind the upsurge in illiberal political tendencies, for example, the sudden desire of the majority to get rid of minority rights? How can we explain the growing willingness to sacrifice ever more freedoms to a need for security? Have we given up striving for a balance between liberty and security? How might a new balance be found?

The programme of the Political Symposium and the Legal Symposium, which take place between August 24 and 27, is made up of four parts:

1) STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW: The rule of law, one of our basic values, is there to protect citizens from arbitrary rule and safeguard their liberty. But what happens when the protective shield provided by the rule of law stops being so effective? How efficient are the legal and political instruments of the EU in guaranteeing 'an area of freedom, security and justice'? And what can we as individuals do to help defend our fundamental values?

2) PROTECTING CIVIC AND HUMAN RIGHTS: The pursuit of security and the loss of liberty frequently go hand in hand. Governmental security measures often mean increased control and growing constraints, which simultaneously limit personal liberties, for example protecting (online and offline) privacy. How can we safeguard civil rights in the digital age? How far does freedom of expression extend? Do we have to tolerate radical statements, or would a greater threat be posed by excluding extreme opinions from public debate? What is the role of targeted disinformation and how can we counteract it?

3) WORKING TOGETHER WITH THE EU AND ITS PARTNERS: What are the economic, legal and security policy consequences of Brexit? Does the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU spell the beginning of its disintegration? Or will it lead to consolidation, for example in the area of economic and monetary union, or foreign and security policy? Will EU institutions find better ways of working together, or be granted a wider remit in the case that the parliament is given the right of legislative initiative? What might a successful cooperation between Europe and Africa as equal partners look like? What political framework do African countries need in place for positive and sustainable economic and social development?

4) FACILITATING SUSTAINABILITY TRANSFORMATIONS: What strategies might be helpful in avoiding climate crisis and, in general, promoting a sustainable approach to resources of all kinds? Does Europe have a pioneering role to play in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals? Will Europe founder on the interests of nation states, businesses, consumers'? What possibilities do new technologies offer for sustainable energy consumption?

Please note that the programme is subject to change and will be updated continuously. If you have questions regarding the programme, please contact

Political and Legal Symposium

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Kategorie: all Breakout Plenary