During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU’s emissions fell dramatically. The power and heat sectors have seen a drop of around 15 percent compared to the previous year, industrial emissions have fallen by 7 percent and emissions from intra-European aviation have dropped by a whopping 63 percent. At the same time, the European Green Deal, which was launched in 2019, has begun to take shape. New strategies, as well as the Fit for 55 packages on climate and energy legislation, are designed to put the EU on track to reaching its target of climate neutrality by 2050 and reduce its emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). They are accompanied by hundreds of billions of euros made available for green investments. What is Visegrad’s role in the collective effort to decarbonize Europe’s economy by 2050? What opportunities and hurdles are specific for this region? And what should the next steps of Visegrad’s green development look like? Can the Visegrad and broader CEE region become the green heart of Europe within the next decades?
Moderator: Koert Debeuf, Editor in Chief, EUobserver
The crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism across the globe highlight the importance of taking a more strategic approach to the promotion of democracy worldwide. The EU has recently reviewed its political guidance on democracy and human rights and is about to adopt important measures to strengthen its support for democracy. Among the tools are development aid strategy, value-based economic relations (investments), and political and diplomatic dialogues and partnerships. What tools should the EU be equipped with to deal with the new challenges in democracy promotion and in particular, with the Digital challenges and the narrowing space for civil societies?
Moderator: Kostis Geropoulos, Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe
The path to building the next-gen defense industry in Europe will not come easily. But adopting U.S. best practices can accelerate the process. The United States and its European allies have traditionally enjoyed a capability gap over their adversaries since the end of the Cold War. During that period, the West’s focus shifted to combating terrorism and capacity building in fragile states. As a result, the urgency to develop and field new systems to combat potential near-peer competitors has eroded. With the Soviet threat receding from institutional memory, Western allies continue to develop and acquire complex, bespoke multi-mission platforms that assume, in part, permissive operating domains. This is changing due to the shift to Great Power Competition and the increasing pace of technological change. To address this, in the United States the government has begun courting startups and venture capital in order to expand the scope and improve the speed of funding for non-traditional businesses and startups in the defense sector. This has not been matched in Europe, where stagnant defense budgets and favoring of national champions have led to a relative dearth of innovation and a declining defense industrial base. So, what factors have led to this? And what opportunities does Europe have to grow the industrial base and increase innovation in defense?
Moderator: Julian Schmid, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of International Relations
Digital environment and innovations have been driving the digital ecosystem towards competition on a worldwide marketplace with a signature winner-takes-it-all effect. Nowadays, technological supremacy is shaping both the political and economic power of large businesses. Such market power and interconnectedness reveal vulnerabilities of digital business with gatekeeping corporates and platforms having vast influence on the digital market development, data collection and use, or the rise and fall of start-up companies. To build a sovereign and sustainable digital market, not only the business model and digital infrastructure needs proper navigation, the human capital and cooperation must also be at the forefront. To foster the European ambitions, the European Digital Strategy aims to create a fair, innovative and entrepreneurship-centered environment with limited market power of the gatekeepers, as well as democratic control of the digital ecosystem and its cybersecurity. The European Digital Decade adds the focus on citizens' digital skills and the digitalization of the public sector. Yet, how can the EU support small businesses and start-ups that mainly rely on platforms or software of gatekeepers that already set the stage? What can be done to engage local citizens in digitalization and to support small-scale businesses not to eventually sell their product to the big players?
Moderator: Nikita Poljakov, Editor in Chief, E15
The purpose of the Eastern Partnership program was to boost political and economic ties between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, and to prevent the emergence of new borders in Europe after the ‘Eastern’ enlargement of the EU. It also served to build a common platform to share democracy, prosperity, and stability. More than a decade later, however, the progress has been mixed. On the upside, three of the EU’s Eastern neighbors – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – have embarked on challenging democratic and economic transformations and have built, through a far-reaching association, free trade and visa agreements and ever-closer ties with the EU. The progress and relations with the other free countries remain much thinner due to well-known political and economic reasons. The post-2020 policy, so far, has shed no light on the available crisis management tools and offers no preparedness in terms of policy response for when things go awry in the Eastern Neighbourhood. Therefore, now is the time to debate possible trajectories, scenarios, and contingencies for the development of the Eastern Partnership over the coming years. For instance, should there be a new deal for the Eastern Partnership, with the three Association Agreements to be further built on as the three states wish, while also enhancing the EaP of the six?
Moderator: Daisy Sindelar, Vice-president & Editor in Chief, Radio Free Europe
The representatives of the Future European Leaders Forum (FELF) present their ideas on how to shape policy. FELF is an integral part of the Prague European Summit, bringing together exceptional future leaders with diverse professional and academic backgrounds, and with a proven track record as opinion leaders in their fields of activity. The mission of FELF is to create a space for meaningful, open, and inspiring formal and informal conversations and learning via different formats - for instance, team building, workshops, simulations, training, and panel discussions. FELF interconnects young people with experienced experts and decision-makers and teaches the youth practical sets of skills needed to advocate, create and succeed.
Moderator: Karolina Zbytniewska, Editor in Chief, Euractiv PL
The UK has been an avid user and key developer of EU cooperation on matters of internal security, even as it disposed of an opt-out from such cooperation. However, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU means that its ability to cooperate on internal security matters has changed. While the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement covers internal security cooperation in no less than 84 pages and maintains wide formal access of the UK to critical databases and links to EU agencies, the access to several others is subject to informal alternative arrangements. The main obstacle for tight functional cross-border security cooperation lies in the UK’s formal non-participation in the EU’s personal data protection regulations and jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU, which will limit EU-UK interagency intelligence sharing, development of common standards, and participation in Joint Investigation Teams and cross-border operations. Given these circumstances, how can both sides step up their internal security cooperation?
Moderator: Simone Neads, Managing Editor, European Security Journal
The EU has decided on digital sovereignty, but its European significance will be decided through the process of its realization. While we can think of the US digital sovereignty as dominated by big digital corporations along with the market-led model and the Chinese model as by deliberate state-permeated support for own big digital corporations, which model will be European? Should it involve the typical European values such as direct aid to small and middle-sized enterprises rather than big corporations? Should it be sensitive to social rights? Should it be prioritizing democracy over simple market imperatives?
Moderator: Karel Barták, Coordinator of the EU Section, INFO.CZ
Is Europe well-positioned for a green recovery and green transition, or do we still need to do more? And what kind of opportunities are there for the Czech Republic in the context of the twin – green and digital – transition?
Moderator: Linda Zeilina, Founder and CEO, International Sustainable Finance Centre
After years of stagnation, the adoption of a new methodology and the decision to open the accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia seemed to promise a much-needed new momentum in the EU Enlargement policy. However, the devastating effects of the pandemic and divisions among EU member states swiftly overshadowed the progress, calling into doubt the willingness of the EU to further support the enlargement process.
Can the geopolitical importance of the region outweigh the lack of political will among member states to step up the EU enlargement process? What other options does the EU have in regard to the candidate countries apart from the EU membership perspective? And how can the EU regain its credibility in the region after years of inconsistency?
Moderator: Žiga Faktor, Head of Brussels Office, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy
With a new president in the White House and a renewed mandate for global affairs and multilateralism, the US seems to be back on track and ready to revive relations with its close partner, the European Union. The new administration has called for stronger collaboration and leadership from the EU to further align on a common strategy toward China and Russia, bolstering the NATO alliance, expanding the US-EU scope to include other democratic partners, and aligning on post-pandemic recovery. While some within the EU have welcomed the US back with open arms, others have called for a more distanced reengagement in the form of strategic autonomy. The last four years under the Trump administration have left a power vacuum for global challengers to take advantage of the unengaged US, leaving other democratic nations, including the EU, to take a more autonomous approach towards global affairs, including climate change, trade disputes, and geopolitical challengers such as Russia and China. While not a new concept, strategic autonomy comes with its own set of challenges, including deepening divisions within the EU and questioning to what extent this can be applied towards long-term security and economic facets. As democracies around the world deal with both domestic and external challenges, developing a new transatlantic agenda that adapts to the new security, political and economic environment, while managing geopolitical rivalries, is central to advancing this relationship and agenda. This session will explore the latest foreign policy developments of the Biden administration, evaluate the future of the EU-US relationship and consider if the EU will go down the path of strategic autonomy or towards a strategic alliance.
Moderator: Ivan Hodáč, Founder and President, Aspen Institute Central Europe
Transport is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. Political, economic, social, and technological trends are innovating transport services The future of mobility and the new mobility ecosystem have been a highly discussed topic, which have influenced the business models and long-term strategy of vehicle producers and transport operators in the last decade. As mobility becomes increasingly connected and integrated, and as our awareness and requirements for accessible, efficient, clean and safe transport become higher, the investment needs for the sector will necessarily adapt and change. During the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, the debate over Green and Digital Transformation was swayed. On the one hand, by the technological perspective of green modes of transportation and use of personal and easily accessible mobility services, and on the other hand, by the need to ensure that public transportation is a safe and available mode of travel. Innovative technological developments (notably due to digitization and automation) and societal changes have been reshaping mobility concepts. Changes and innovations in complementary areas such as vehicle electrification, mobility-as-a-service, shared mobility, intelligent transport systems, massive computing/big data as well as autonomous vehicles are shaping the future of mobility. Automation (and robotics) is playing an increasing role in the operation and delivery of transport services. The attraction of automated vehicles lies in the compelling promise the technology holds for making journeys greener, safer both for personal and freight mobility, easier and more productive, The case for automated logistics vehicles was made even stronger by the pandemic, and the requirement for more resilient supply chains. Nevertheless, despite the attractiveness of automation, this technology comes at a cost and as it takes over the transport system, it can also bring risks and challenges.
Big tech firms such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are crucial for society. Indeed, they are at the core of contemporary societal debates revolving around privacy, AI, or disinformation. Over the past years, the EU has made increasing attempts to regulate these companies which are exemplified for example by the GDPR. However, other issues such as the taxation of big tech or the regulation of AI are still open for debate. At this roundtable, we ask: who can and should regulate these companies? What is the aim of these regulations? The protection of the economy? The strengthening of democracy? Or the safety of citizens? And how is such regulation possible if states increasingly rely on big tech? Are private-public partnerships really the answer? Is ‘digital sovereignty’ as proposed by the EU the solution?
Never in the history of mankind have we had access to so much information and never have we had so much free time to draw leisure and knowledge of the world from. Our predecessors had dreamed: science and technology would liberate humanity. But this dream is now at the risk of turning into a nightmare. The tremendous flood of information has led to the widespread competition of all ideas, deregulation of the "cognitive market" which has an adverse consequence: to capture, often for the worse, the precious treasure of our attention. Our minds are captivated by the screens and surrender themselves to the thousand faces of madness. Victims of looting, as a rule, our mind is at the heart of an issue on which our future depends. This alarming context reveals some of the profound aspirations of humankind.
Moderator: Petr Janyška, Political writer and journalist, former diplomat, namely Ambassador to France
Whilst the last decades were characterised by progress in terms of gender equality, the pandemic has disrupted this upward tendency. Indeed, the health crisis has explicitly exposed systemic inequalities between men and women. Domestic violence against women has spiked, making it the “shadow pandemic” of the health crisis. As the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated existing inequalities, the situation calls for a thorough reflection on the structures that maintain such phenomena. As revived gender roles are pushing women out of the labor market, the professional rollback has been unbelievably fast. Stay-at-home orders have taken women more than a step backward. Housework - usually described as women’s “second shift” - has become inseparable from the rest of their day. This is especially true for mothers who have had to take on the role of the teacher as schools closed. Moreover, women-dominated fields, such as hospitality and tourism, have been heavily impacted by the successive lockdowns. This session, following the recent surge of gender inequalities, will explore and consider different ways forward. As conservative views mostly emerge during times of uncertainty, previous health and economic crises have pushed women to stay at home. Therefore, this session will evaluate the greatest risk identified so far for gender equality: that the gender imbalance created by the pandemic will become permanent.
Moderator: Magdalena Jakubowska, Vice President at the Res Publica Foundation & Visegrad Insight
The rise of China has inevitably brought the attention of the individuals and world powers alike, the European Union is one of them. The EU’s value-based internal & external policy-making has found itself clashing with China’s realpolitik approach. The EU-China relationship is tenuous at best, mainly due to the different ideas of what the concepts of human rights and self-determination stand for. However, both of them are technological superpowers with great futures ahead, and they need each other. There will never be achieved any substantial impact of the European Green Deal on the global stage if countries like China, producing over 25% of the world’s Co2, are not involved. Should the EU then backtrack on its value-based diplomacy in order to achieve its policies, such as the Green Deal? Should they pursue the path of further sanctions for perceived human rights violations? Or should the EU find a balance between the two, acknowledging Chinese influence, but building a pragmatic approach towards the mutual relationship?
Moderator: Alica Kizeková, Senior Researcher, Institute of International Relations (online)
The EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is supposed to lead to the normalization of relations between the two parties. A mutual agreement is crucial for both Kosovo and Serbia, as their European perspective relies on it. While the Brussels Agreement signed in 2013 presented the first breakthrough in the process, the Dialogue has been stagnating since then, and de facto put on hold in 2018. The meeting of the two sides in September 2020 in Washington and the appointment of Miroslav Lajčák as the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue suggest that renewal is around the corner. However, even with the engagement and steering by Mr. Lajčák, the Dialogue still needs to address very sensitive issues which Kosovo and Serbia do not seem to see eye to eye on, including the implementation of the Brussels Agreement itself. What is the future of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue? Will the newly elected leadership in Kosovo diverge from the negotiations? How will the Serbian government respond to all impediments that arise in the Dialogue? Will the EU step up the efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement between the two sides? What influence do other external powers have over the process?
Moderator: Jana Juzová, Research Fellow, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy
The pandemic has been a litmus test for governments and good governance across the globe, testing the coherence, compassion, and competence of societies. In this brave new world, trust has emerged – or finally been acknowledged – as an essential currency. Countries and governments enjoying high levels of public trust and legitimacy, such as New Zealand and Denmark, have managed the pandemic competently, while other countries, often led by populists, have seen unprecedented suffering due to discordant pandemic management and societal polarisation. Beyond the immediate pandemic management, public distrust in governance risks not just national but global ramifications as mutations evolve amidst societal disenfranchisement and polarisation. Beyond the pandemic, as Europe prepares its twin green and digital transformations and post-pandemic recovery, restoring public trust and legitimacy is a prerequisite for long-term sustainability in Europe. How can societal cohesion, trust, and solidarity be restored lest the failures of the pandemic repeat themselves? Has the pandemic exposed the limitations of the nation-state and the need for deeper European – and global – integration?
Moderator: Koert Debeuf, Editor in Chief of the EUobserver
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on the European economy. In 2020, the Eurozone slumped by 6,4% and it yet remains to be seen what the year 2021 will bring. The sluggish roll-out of the vaccination in the first quarter of 2021 means that the EU’s recovery will come later than in other major economies such as the UK or the US. Simultaneously, the long-lasting lockdowns have had an asymmetrical impact on various economic sectors. While industrial production was put on hold only temporarily, the tourism and service sectors suffered a major hit. Others, such as delivery and tech, experienced unprecedented growth. This effectively means that regardless of state subsidies, the costs of the pandemic became unequally distributed across the EU’s economies. As herd immunity in the EU is within reach, it is necessary to discuss how to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various economic sectors, so that everyone can fully benefit from the expected recovery. Most importantly, there must be debate about how the European Union could ensure via its financial means that no one is left behind. The traditional as well as new tools, such as the Next Generation EU, are well-positioned to become a key player in this.
Moderator: Ilya Roubanis, Managing Director of Brussels Morning
The transition to Smart Grid technology, across the European Union, is the ultimate goal to reach in the near future. It goes without saying that Smart Grid technologies make it possible for Electric Vehicles (EVs) to proliferate without overloading the electric supply industry, and at the same time, EVs are driving investment in Smart Grid technologies. However, the widespread use of Smart Grid technologies is not easily attainable. Firstly, the incentivization of private EV purchase is not even across EU countries and the upscaling of electromobility is still ahead of us. Secondly, the “prosumer” behavior (being equipped with smart watt routers and IoT) is highly awaited, however, not been witnessed yet. Lastly, although the up-to-date power grid is capable of managing the daily fluctuations in the electricity grid, it is not capable to do so with the seasonal ones – if dependent on solar and wind power supplies alone. Therefore, we must ask, can electric vehicles be useful for matching intermittent solar and wind power supplies to demand, soaking up the excess off-peak power supply, and feeding power back into the grid when needed? And, while vehicles are parked for 95% of the time, what is the potential of vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home supplies? Finally, what steps need to be taken to modernize the power grid towards smart electric grids in the EU?
Two existential threats to human civilization are above our heads, the crisis of climate change and nature’s destruction. The Paris Agreement encourages innovation for an effective long-term global response to fight climate change to promote economic growth and sustainable development. The EU, United States, China, Japan, Korea, and the UK have made unilateral commitments because the response requires collaboration and technological convergence. We need to reduce emissions by 7.6% per year until 2030. Unless we try to make a difference, the change of the climate will be irreversible.
Moderator: Aneta Zachová, Editor in Chief, Euractiv CZ
Although ‘trade wars’ is regular front-page news, most of the ‘military’ activities (i.e. increasing tariffs and limiting trade in other ways) have been initiated by the US administration, forcing other WTO partners to retaliate. Nobody else starts trade wars. However, Trump’s highly visible tariffs might have obscured a subtle and less overt trend undermining the world trade system: rising non-tariff protectionism. Some indicators show a steady rise in resort to indirect protectionism over a decade or more. How can these be best assessed and what can realistically be done to reverse the trend permanently and credibly?
Moderator: Vladimír Bartovic, Director, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy
How can companies and public institutions approach the environmental agenda and get through stronger? What benefits do they gain following the environmental path and are there any threats in case they do not? Who can help? How can transformation projects be funded?
Moderator: Linda Zeilina, Founder and CEO, International Sustainable Finance Centre
Venue: Prague, PwC Experience Center (address: PwC Česká republika, City Green Court, Hvězdova 1734/2c, Prague 4 (nearby metro C Pankrác))
The International Programme Board is the key advisory body of the Prague European Summit. It meets on a regular basis, at least once a year. The International Programme Board is comprised of leading international thinkers who care about the future of European integration. The Board is essential in shaping the substantive part of the Prague European Summit, and its tasks include the formulation of programme priorities for the upcoming Summit in June 2021 as well as innovative suggestions regarding the Summit´s structure, its side-events and its output.
Over the years, the Prague European Summit has appeared in major Czech and foreign media outlets.
Prague European Summit is a platform for strategic dialogue about common responses to EU's challenges. It connects public officials, business and NGO representatives, academics and journalists to discuss topics such as EU leadership, security, new technologies and digital age, current economic & foreign policy challenges, or the impact of various policies and trends on the European society. …
The goal of the Prague European Summit is to find common answers to the key questions in the economic, social, foreign-political and institutional areas of the European Union. The organisers aim to recast the image of the Czech Republic as an EU member country which self-confidently yet constructively joins the strategic discussions on the course of the European Union. …
Alongside Prague European Summit take place Urban Talks, public debates (in 2019 held in Prague and Brno, in 2020 online), and the Future European Leaders Forum, which for six days interconnects 30 exceptional young people with experts and decision-makers on a wide range of the most pressing issues on the European level. …
The Prague European Summit 2020, held in a hybrid format, attracted more than 110+ speakers (46% women) from 30+ different countries. 800+ registered participants connected online and thousands watched the Summit on social media. …
Governing Global Tech Firms; Is Taxation the Answer?, Nikola Schmidt & Linda Monsees
From the Ashes: Innovation and Evolution of the European Defense Industrial Base, Nicholas Nelson
Greening the European Industry in the post-COVID-19 World, Katharine Klačanský & Michal Hrubý
The Prague European Summit was established under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic and the City of Prague.
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