EUISS Annual Conference: Europe’s strategic choices in a world of contestation


11 June 2024




The Royal military academy – Rue Hobbema 8, Brussels

Type of Event


On invitation only


Egmont Institute, Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and EUISS

EUISS Annual Conference 2024

Event organised together with the Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations, in partnership with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In the wake of the European parliamentary elections, the conference will discuss the strategic options and choices facing the EU. How should it navigate a world of growing geopolitical contestation and intensifying security threats? Amid talk of Europe being ‘mortal’ and in peril, what steps are needed to protect European citizens, interests and values? What is the right balance between ‘defending Europe’ and winning the ‘battle of offers’?

We will take stock of the achievements of the current mandate and explore ideas for the new EU leadership to take forward, as fostering security across all dimensions is becoming a central priority for the future of the EU project.




Registration and coffee



opening remarks

Steven Everts

Director, EU Institute for Security Studies

Sven Biscop

Director, Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations



EUROPE’S NEW mission: securing our citizens against all threats

Keynote speech

Josep Borrell

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission

Followed by Q&A


15.05 – 16.15


More than two years since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and no less than 25 years since the start of the European Security and Defence Policy, Europe stands at a critical juncture as a security actor and must make fundamental choices. With the use of military power surging around the world, EU Member States and partners are rearming at a brisk pace. The EU is using various tools to strengthen the European defence industry and facilitate joint procurement, while NATO has expanded its membership and is overhauling its force and command structures. But defence is about more than military capabilities; it is also about hybrid threats, societal resilience, economic security and psychological defence. In this complex threat landscape, Europe must navigate challenging policy choices and engage in strategic trade-offs. This debate will help clarify these choices.



Méabh Mc Mahon




Admiral Michel Hofman

Chief of Defence, Belgium

Monika Sie Dhian Ho

Director-General, Clingendael Institute

Bastian Giegerich

Director-General, IISS

Tobias Gehrke

Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)



Coffee break



THE end of the brussels effect?

The EU has long seen and portrayed itself as a normative power. Its advocacy for human rights and democracy as well as its commitment to climate action and higher environmental and labour standards, are a hallmark of its global identity. But the capacity to shape the world through norm setting – the Brussels effect – is eroding. Increasingly, the EU faces pushback, particularly across the so-called ‘Global South’, where resentment at perceived lecturing and double standards is growing. All this comes as competition with China is rising, with Beijing pushing a more transactional, ostensibly non-ideological stance on international trade and diplomacy. The question is: in an à la carte world, does the allure of no-questions-asked economic benefits eclipse normative considerations? In an era of geopolitics, can Europe still avoid choosing interests over norms and values?



Andrew Bounds

The Financial Times



Gunnar Wiegand

Visiting Distinguished Fellow, The German Marshall Fund

Indrani Bagchi

Chief Executive Officer, Ananta Aspen Centre, New Delhi

George Mukundi Wachira

CEO Maendeleo Group and former head of the African Governance Architecture

Belen Martínez Carbonell

Acting Deputy Secretary General, European External Action Service


18.00 – 18.10

Closing remarks

Steven Everts

Director, EU Institute for Security Studies




Venue: Royal Museum of Art and History – Parc du Cinquantenaire 10


19.00 -19.20

“Elevator pitches” on the EUISS project “Ten ideas for the new team”

As a new EU leadership team takes shape and prepares for office, it will need concrete ideas on how it can revitalise EU foreign policy. The EUISS team has been working on a set of ambitious and sometimes iconoclastic proposals to equip the EU to survive and thrive in a power political world. At the reception, a selection of EUISS analysts will briefly present their idea, accompanied by impactful visuals, to explain what the EU can do differently and better – inviting immediate reactions from the audience.



End of reception


Please note that only pre-registered participants may attend the event.



(Photo credit: Wikipedia)