[Annual Lecture] ‘Europe’s role in the world: player or plaything?’ by Prof. Brigid Laffan

Published 13 October 2021

Registrations are open for the seventh Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture 2021, which will be held by Emerita Professor Brigid Laffan, an internationally recognised expert on the European Union. The title of her lecture is: ‘Europe in the world: The emergence of Collective Power Europe?’. During the 7th Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture, Brigid Laffan will analyse the challenges facing Europe in a world of geopolitical shift and shock:

“On the 24th of February 2022, the post-war international order ended, as did the 1989 peace dividend. A major nuclear power Russia, invaded its neighbour Ukraine, targeting civilians, reducing urban centres to a rubble and triggering a major displacement of people in Europe. For the European Union (EU) and the wider community of democracies, this is a critical juncture with implications for the security and political economy architecture of Europe and the wider world for decades to come. The Russian invasion takes place against the return of hard geopolitics, Great Power competition and the weakening of multilateral institutions. Over the last decade, the EU, a polity but not a state, has been grappling with its response to new dynamics in global politics. Europe’s search for a role has focused on ill-defined concepts such as strategic autonomy and European sovereignty. The collective EU wants to be a player, not a plaything but is challenged by the imbalance between its economic power, diverging preferences of the member states and an inchoate approach to security which relies on NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance. The focus of this lecture is threefold. First, it explores the response of the EU and the community of democracies to Putin’s war. Second, it analyses the impact on global politics and Great Power competition and three, assesses the consequences of the war for the dynamic of European integration and the nature of the EU. ” - Brigid Laffan

About Brigid Laffan
Until earlier this month, Brigid Laffan was director and professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and director of the Global Governance Programme at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence. In the last eight years, Laffan has been the convenor of the State of the Union, the annual summit for high-level reflection on the European Union, which acts as a bridge between academia and policy making at the highest level in Europe. In 20‌18, Politico ranked Laffan, a long time professor of political science who grew up in Ireland, among the women who shape Europe. Laffan is a leading thinker on the dynamic of European integration. She has published a number of important books on Europe, such as Integration and Co-operation in Europe (19‌92), The Finances of the Union (19‌97), Europe's Experimental Union - Re-thinking Integration (20‌00, co-authored), Core-periphery Relations in the European Union (20‌16, co-edited) and Europe’s Union in Crisis: Tested and Contested - West European Politics (20‌16). Brigid Laffan was awarded the THESEUS Award for outstanding research on European Integration, and the UACES Lifetime Achievement Award. In 20‌10, she received the Ordre national du Mérite by the President of the French Republic.

This year’s T.M.C. Asser Annual Lecture will take place in the Academy Hall of the Peace Palace, The Hague, the Netherlands on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 from 16‌.00 – 17‌.30 hrs CET, followed by a reception.


Watch the video below to learn more about the event:


More information on the lecture and our COVID-19 policy will follow soon.