This was the first event of the recently established “Working Group on Central Europe”, composed of experts in the Brussels offices of PISM, GLOBSEC, the Antall József Knowledge Centre (AJKC), EUROPEUM, and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
The online conference kicked off with introductory remarks by Dr. Łukasz Jurczyszyn, director of the PISM Brussels Office, who spoke about the objectives of the Working Group on Central Europe. PISM aims to be particularly supportive in giving a public platform to this regional perspective, which is not often present in Brussels debates.
Then, Dušan Reljić, head of the Brussels office of SWP and the conference moderator presented the following subjects of the debate:
- Country-level pandemic crisis-management: How well have the Central European Member States responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of epidemiological measures and practices, as well as political and regulatory actions? What are the main barriers to regional cooperation and best practices?
- European economic measures: the slowing incidence of COVID-19 has prompted some EU countries, also in Central Europe, to make the first attempts to move away from the restrictions imposed in the fight against the coronavirus. Yet, at this moment many uncertainties loom. How will the pandemic affect the economy of Central Europe, including from the perspective of the anticipated re-localisation of industries to and within the EU? How will the common market, the eurozone, and the Multiannual Financial Framework function in future? Do the stimulus and exit strategies taken by Central European Member States, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank comprise a sufficient response to the crisis?
Reljić then presented the four distinguished panellists:
- Alexandra Martin, head of the Brussels office of GLOBSEC (Slovakia, Romania),
- Balázs Hamar, head of the Brussels office of AJKC (Hungary),
- Christian Kvorning Lassen, deputy director of EUROPEUM (Czech Republic, Denmark), and,
- Jolanta Szymanska, head of PISM’s EU Programme (Poland),
Their participation guaranteed a large geographical perspective on the discussed issues. They presented not only the socio-political contexts of the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective countries but also elaborated their analyses with the possible economic consequences of the crisis for the EU as a whole.
This first event of the newly established Working Group on Central Europe included 80 registered participants and gave a clear incentive for organising subsequent events with the partners.