EUCN Network Conference

The EUCN held its annual conference from the 25th – 26th November at Lincoln University in Canterbury. The conference bought together academics and graduate students from around the country and internationally, including Singapore, Australia, Sweden and the United States.

The focus of the conference was on “European Integration at 60: Progress, Problems, Perspectives”. This was a multidisciplinary conference to investigate the past changes and future challenges faced by European Integration, as well as the impact and reaction to these changes within the Asia Pacific. Special themes within the conference included;

  • EUs relationships with the Asia Pacific region
  • The EU as a reference point for Asia-Pacific regional integration architecture
  • The challenges of Climate Change and the Financial Crisis to the EU and its external relations
  • The progress and problems faced in relation to agriculture and trade policy both within the EU and with its external partners.

The over thirty papers given presented a varied look at the EU and in particular its external relationships. A highlight of the conference were the insightful questions by the audience and the thoughtful, intensive – but good natured – debate and discussion that took place in each session. It was great to see a high level of post-graduate student participation in the conference with 17 post-graduates presenting their papers.

The conference was opened by Prof. Roger Field the Vice Chancellor of Lincoln University. In his opening remarks he stressed the importance of avenues where people can talk across disciplines and highlighted that multidisciplinary areas of study promoted deeper understandings of thematic topics by allowing them to be investigated from a variety of angles. Dr. John Leslie, the Chair of the EUCN Board then welcomed everyone to the conference and thanked the organisers. The first keynote address was then delivered by Prof. Ole Elgstrom from Lund University in Sweden. He presented on “The EU: A Leader in an emerging new world order?” His paper discussed the idea ways in which the EU had been perceived as a leader in Climate Change by other players and how the Copenhagen negotiations impacted on this perception and therefore the impacts on the EU’s ability to act as a leader in Climate change issues and also in other areas of international relations.

After a day of presentations around EU Development, Attitudes and Perceptions, EU and Asia, Climate Change and Trade, the conference participants moved into the Christchurch Convention Centre to hear Ambassador Georg Julius Luy, the German Ambassador to Burma.  He was in New Zealand courtesy of  the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany for a series of events around the country focusing on the Two plus Four negotiations. The Ambassador, who was a member of the 1990 negotiating team, talked on “Two plus Four – Revisiting a diplomatic masterpiece which paved the way to German Reunification”.  This keynote address was held in conjunction with the Christchurch chapter of the NZIIA and was also the opportunity for participants to view a photo exhibition focusing on the Two-plus-Four negotiations. After the Ambassador’s presentation the conference participants took in some of the Christchurch sights on a short walk to the conference dinner location, where a Spanish theme including Sangria, tapas and paella led to much lively discussion.

Day two of the conference saw more presentations focusing on ASEAN and EU in Asia, Education, Trade and Environment and Eastern European Issues. Following the conference the first Sandpit meeting for the New Zealand Europe IRSES Exchange Project – KEEENZ was held.

The conference was funded by the EUCN through a DG RELEX grant.