4 Dec 2020

RELAY Kick-off Conference: ‘Europa’, What Are the Main Challenges You Are Facing and How Will You Tackle Them?

This conference kicks-off the events series within the RELAY project. It brings together academics and a wide array of stakeholders in an extensive range of domains, allowing for differentiated perspectives on all of the European Commission’s political priorities, from digitalization, through the European Green Deal, to the EU as a global player.

What is RELAY?

RELAY logo


RELAY is a Jean Monnet project that aims at discussing the European Commission’s political guidelines and work programme with a wide and diverse array of stakeholders. Stakeholders will be able to provide input through a series of conferences, workshops, and working papers. At the end of the project, the results of these discussions will be integrated into a policy brief with recommendations.

For more information and to download the full programme, please visit the RELAY website.

Programme of the Day


Opening of virtual room


Welcome and introduction to the RELAY project: objectives and approach


Panel 1: Making the EU more ‘democratic’ and more ‘socially fair’: challenges ahead

The EU is seen to suffer from a “democratic deficit” and the new European Commission (2019-
2024) proposes to go ‘further than ever’ to tackle this deficit by proposing a “Conference on
the future of Europe”. At the same time, the EU faces the double challenge of increasing
citizen participation and inclusivity, and retaining its social market economy, while remaining
competitive. To what extent are these realistic endeavours? What issues need to be
prioritized? How can these issues be tackled and by whom?




Panel 2: Promoting ‘EU values’ and assuming ‘global leadership’

While equality, tolerance and social fairness are promoted as being at the heart of European integration, to what extent are these principles under pressure? Has the European project lost sight of social cohesion? To what extent do threats to the rule of law challenge the legal, political and economic foundations of the EU? This session will probe into these questions and at the same time examine how the core values of the EU can be upheld on the global stage: To what extent can the EU be a global player? Does the changing global order weaken the EU’s liberal orientation as an international actor or does it in fact strengthen the principles that frame a rules-based liberal international order?


Lunch break


Panel 3: A ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ Europe and one that is ‘fit’ for the digital age; how to get there?

The impact of climate change has moved to the top of the (European) political agenda. The European Commission strives for Europe to be the first climate-neutral continent. But how do we get there? What role does the European Green Deal play in this context? How will it impact on those without a strong ‘voice’ (e.g. people living in poverty, animals, nature)? Speaking of those that might ‘lose out’: what about the impact of digital transformations? What about the impact of the governance of digitalisation, how to address the exacerbation of social cleavages? What does making Europe ‘fit’ for the digital age imply for different societal groups?




Parallel thematic breakout rooms

Speakers and participants will get together in thematic breakout rooms, in line with the three previous panels, to continue the discussions and explore issues more in-depth. The breakout room setup will also serve as a networking opportunity.


Concluding discussion: insights of the day and impact of Covid-19 on the European Commission’s political priorities

The conference will conclude by summarising the main insights of the day, examining how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on the different domains, and highlighting some of the main challenges ahead.