Despite (or maybe rather because) of its unique achievements, the very essence of a European Union is being undermined by populist, revisionist and nationalist forces, including the dismissal of notions such as a 'European identity’, and a ‘collective European memory’. Yet the commonality of experience, past and present, is at the very core of the European project. How can we restore European memory and can it still be a driving force behind the European Union?
Where does the French-German tandem go when it comes to renewables cooperation? Where do we stand with regard to energy transition ambition on both sides of the Rhine? These and similar questions have been adressed at a Böll Lunch Debate in the summer, please find here the event report.
Can the EU gain back a pioneer role through own pledges when it comes to mitigation, adaptation and financing - or is there a risk for the Union to remain a latecomer due to internal tug wars? Does Europe rather need fresh impetus from its regions to reach real climate commitments in the EU, as time runs out until talks under UN auspices have to be finalized in Paris next year? With more and more municipalities and regions embarking successfully on climate action, are there chances for these actors to go beyond current achievements, particularly if an ambitious EU strategy does not see the light of day? As regional and local entities - directly affected by climate change - would be hit hard by a fail ure of the 2015 Paris summit, how can local and regional climate action be driven forward and coordinated more transnationally in the near future?
What can Europe learn from the U.S. to get consumers involved in the electricity market? What should the EU do to unlock the potential of demand side flexibility and deal with concerns about adequate data protection? How should funds, regulations, incentives and measures be designed and implemented to ensure success in promoting energy efficiency? How can market and non-market barriers be identified and overcome to foster energy savings? In what way could 2030 energy efficiency targets help the EU to reduce its emissions in a cost effective way and to increase its energy security and how would this compare to an emissions-only approach? How can transatlantic cooperation help to unlock mitigation opportunities in energy efficiency in the pre-2020 period?
Are the EU-institutions and the Member States ready to continue and strengthen the integration process, will they try harder to reach out to citizens and re-involve them in the project, which has given them more than 60 years of peace and relative prosperity? Or will European countries return to their nationalist end egoistic past with all the consequences? And, what about Germany? Embedded in the European Union, the reunited country has become the most powerful, stable and wealthy European state. It owes the European project its success, but is it ready to play a leading role in the further integration process?
Is there still time to convince enough citizens, especially the young, to give their support to the European project, however bruised and battered it may look at the moment? What are the main challenges to be mastered if, at the end of the year, the European Union and its supporters will be able to look back with contentment, pride and relief and forward with confidence?