Mo 19 Sep 2022

Distance & Convergence: re:constituting Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe

picture: Joanna Scheffel

The  re:constitution Alumni and Network Conference  Distance & Convergence "Re:constituting Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe"– held at the Umweltforum in Berlin on 8-9 September – ended with great success.

More than 100 participants – among them re:constitution Fellows and alumni, partners and experts with various backgrounds - came together to discuss some of the most pressing issues about and around democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The conference was also the kick-off event for the new cohort of the re:constitution Fellows.

The impact of crisis on democracy and the rule of law in Europe guided the first quarter of the Conference. The debates focused on the implications of the Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine on the institutions and the values of the EU and on the assessment of the EU’s crisis management in response to the war and to the COVID 19 pandemic. Our panelists also looked at the key re:constitution objective of connecting academia and practice to safeguard democracy and the rule of law in Europe and stressed the importance of collaboration.

The Keynote Speeches given by Koen Lenaerts, President of the Court of Justice of the European Union and Angelika Nussberger, Director of the Academy for European Human Rights Protection, marked a great highlight of the Conference. President Lenaerts made a strong and inspiring plea for safeguarding judicial independence and the rule of law in the European Union, while Professor Nussberger gave an important assessment on approaches of different European actors touching upon fundamental questions that are to be answered in the rule of law crisis.

The participants were provided with the opportunity to get in touch with various programmes, centres and initiatives at the Democracy and Rule of Law Marketplace. Further, re:constitution-Fellows, alumni and partners conducted interactive  workshops, exploring topics such as anti-liberal pushbacks in Europe, the future of rule of law and democracy in the age of artificial intelligence, tailor-made laws as well as communication on rule of law topics.

In times of questioning or dismantling the rule of law and the values of liberal democracy in Europe, the conference showed the vital importance of exchange and debates on current challenges towards the founding values of the EU, in order to safeguard the European integration for the future. We are thankful to our re:constitution alumna Neus Vidal Martí, who did an astonishing job guiding through the Conference, to Stiftung Mercator and our programme partners Democracy Reporting International  for their continuous support, and to all the speakers and chairs whose contributions were invaluable to the success of the conference.

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