Skip to content

26th International WDR Europaforum 2024

Under pressure – how does the EU stand up to populism, extremism and nationalism?

The upcoming European elections in May 2024 will be a key date for the European Union: in an international environment lurching from crisis to crisis, the project of uniting Europe is facing an existential test.

The global political situation characterised by ever more intense conflicts, demands maximum unity and determination from the EU countries. However, the necessary cohesion is increasingly being countered across the Union by agressive populist nationalism. Extremists are challenging the foundations of the European integration model, the commitment to democracy and the rule of law. This development and what the EU can do against it will be the thematic focus of the 26th WDR Europaforum from 27-29 May 2024 in Berlin.

Firewalls, political ostracism, demystification through involvement, sanctions, bans: In the EU and any number of its member states, all kinds of strategic approaches to counter populism – predominantly from the right -, extremism and nationalism have been tried out over the past years and decades. So far, none of them have worked in the long run. On the contrary, these movements are gaining ground in more and more countries.

This is not just one problem among many. It is about the bedrock of the European Union. Populists and extremists want to replace its basic political principles – separation of powers, democratic control, freedom of opinion, protection of minorities – with authoritarian concepts. The culture of compromise-orientated coexistence shall give way to nationally based ideas of identity. The EU – “Brussels” – is one of the main enemies of nationalist demagogy.

The dramatic escalation of international crises and conflicts poses additional problems for Europe. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the war in the Middle East is another challenge. In both cases, the EU is finding it difficult to reconcile its conflicting interests. The same applies to the contentious issues of migration and the climate crisis, allowing major gains to populists and extremists. A look at global politics reveals further risks: Which way the US is headed? What will become of the transatlantic partnership after the elections in November 2024? What means will China use to pursue its great power ambitions?

In this situation, the EU is confronted with fundamental questions: What drives the opponents of European integration and liberal democracy? Why do they meet with considerable public approval? And, above all, what could be done to stop or even reverse this development?

Just in time for the elections to the European Parliament, the upcoming WDR Europaforum is looking for answers under the title:

"Under pressure – How does the EU stand up to populism, extremism and nationalism?"

Once again, we are expecting renowned politicians, scientists and media representatives to take part. Among others, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck and former Federal President Joachim Gauck have confirmed their attendance.

This year, the WDR Europaforum will take place for the first time inter alia as part of the digital and social conference re:publica in Berlin. Other parts of the programme will be broadcast as usual from Brussels and Strasbourg. The various panels will be broadcast on television and live-streamed online over three days. We cordially invite you to follow the programme there. You will find a detailed programme here soon.

Please understand that WDR cannot cover the costs of attending re:publica.

Thank you very much for your interest!

Das WDR Europaforum wurde live im WDR-Fernsehen übertragen und online im Livestream gezeigt. Die Sendung ist in der Mediathek verfügbar.