Bryssel, brexit and the European agenda

All of a sudden, the summer is behind us and we are well on our way into a new semester. New and old students have arrived and they bring life to both Gothenburg and the University’s premises. It’s easy to go back to familiar habits again, don’t you agree?

Last week, I visited the Vice-Chancellor’s meeting in Brussels. Almost 60 Vice-Chancellors from the Nordic countries met to get information about what’s happening now with the new parliament and commission after the EU election last spring.

The discussions in Brussels are of course marked by the insecurities around Brexit. Through media we can follow and be fascinated by the sometimes dramatic gestures by different parties. Beyond tough quotings such as “I’d rather be dead in a ditch”, many member countries have large concerns about what’s going to happen. We had the opportunity to listen to a brief review by Georg Riekels, advisor and member of the group that are negotiating the exit. The discussions and questions were to a large part about Brexit’s influence on our collaborations in research and education. There are many insecurities on how the collaborations between the countries will continue in the future. What we know today, is that the British government has made a guarantee that existing collaborations will continue to 31 December 2020, hard Brexit or not. The outgoing general secretary in the European Council, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, gave us the broader picture of the European collaboration. Apart from Brexit, there are some difficult challenges in Europe, and at the meeting in Brussels a new strategic agenda for 2019 – 2024 was presented. The strategic agenda focuses on four main priorities:

  • protecting citizens and freedoms
  • developing a strong and vibrant economic base
  • building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe
  • promoting European interests and values on the global stage

An immediate challenge is also Brexit. Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen stated that we are no longer the leading group in the world. From a global perspective, we are a collection of small and medium-sized countries that need to unite and work together. Most of us in the Nordic delegation shared that picture. International collaboration is considered crucial, and not only The University of Gothenburg has a clear focus on this in upcoming efforts.

Eva Wiberg

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