Skip to content

24th International WDR Europaforum 2022

What next?
Europe in the new geopolitical reality

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken the international order to its foundations. Solidarity with Kiev is the imperative of the hour. Europe is called upon to assert its fundamental values in a changed world.

The 24 February 2022 shattered the dream of the “European house”, caused a humanitarian catastrophe and put even more significant strain on the international order. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine indeed marks a turning point. It forces the European Union to fundamentally reflect on its geopolitical positions and perspectives.

In the fourth month of the war, the initially impressive unity of the European Union has long since begun to erode. The immediate shock of Russian aggression has only temporarily brought the member states closer together. After the first rapid decisions on humanitarian aid, logistical assistance and several rounds of sanctions, as well as an unexpected willingness to take in refugees, the diverging interests are becoming increasingly apparent.

The wrangling over the latest bundle of sanctions and especially the EU Commission’s proposals for an oil embargo has not only made it obvious that the EU states are economically dependent on Russia to very different degrees, which also limits the scope for using leverage in different ways. In addition, traditional political divergences over the relationship with Russia have re-emerged. They have made the thesis that Vladimir Putin, with his campaign against the pro-European neighbouring country, is involuntarily helping the EU to achieve a new sense of community questionable again.

But the unexpected unity has yet to prove its worth in the long run and in the strategic repositioning that is due. How radically, how quickly should economic ties with Putin’s Russia be cut? How far can military aid for Ukraine go without risking a war against a nuclear power? Should further EU and NATO accessions be fast-laned or rather postponed? How can the relationship with Russia be made sustainable and secure in the future?

Finally, the diverging ideas among member states about the EU’s core values and long-term integration objectives have not been resolved by the war in Ukraine. The common ground within the EU needed to meet challenges from outside is not a given.
How the EU is equipped to hold its own in this existential test will be the subject of reflection at the WDR Europaforum on 2 June 2022. It will be held under the motto:

What next? Europe in the new geopolitical reality.