In this moment of appalling political instability, it is necessary to create opportunities for a public debate to think about how to reorganize the European political space and reintegrate within it. Seizing on the idea of Prague’s night of philosophy from Étienne Balibar and Étienne Tassin, we are calling for an Agora on the European Political Space – a new initiative that goes in this direction. The subtitle, quoting Balibar, could be: “Pas d’autre France sans autre Europe” – a formula which could clearly be applied to all the countries of the EU.
The first agora was held at Paris 1 on May 25 2018, thanks to the sponsorship of the équipe Normes, Sociétés, Philosophies (NoSoPhi) and of the Institut des Sciences Juridique et Philosophique de la Sorbonne (ISJP). It brought together representatives of the French, Italian and British academic and political scene: Étienne Balibar (Emeritus Professor at Paris X Nanterre, Visiting professor at Columbia University), Nadia Urbinati (Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory at Columbia University), Antonio Panzeri (MEP), Luke Cooper (Another Europe is Possible), Simone Oggionni (Free and Equals), Andrea Pisauro (DiEM25 UK). The event was organised and chaired by Caterina di Fazio (PhD, Philosophy at Paris 1; visiting scholar at Columbia University, January 2016 – September 2018), who had just defended her dissertation, Phenomenology of Political Space, on the philosophical origin of the concept of political space. The idea, which stems from her dissertation, is to open a permanent political debate, with both intellectuals and politicians of the EU, centered, at each time, on a few subjects which animate our contemporary political actuality.
The second Agora Europe, Migration and the European Politica Space: The Future is at the Borders, was organized at Columbia University thanks to the sponsorship of the European Institute, the Columbia European Society and the Alliance Program, and was held at the Maison Française on Wednesday the 26th September 2018. Speakers included: Etienne Balibar (Columbia), Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia), Carlo Invernizzi (CUNY), David Johnston (Columbia), Silvana Patriarca (Fordham), David Ragazzoni (Columbia), Rui Tavares (LIVRE/Brown University), Nadia Urbinati (Columbia), Achille Varzi (Columbia), Nicolas de Warren (PennState). Charta 2020 was first conceived in this occasion and then written on February 15th 2019 at the European University Institute and first presented at the European Parliament and the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Spring 2019. More agora are currently being organised and will take place in Parma, at the University of Bologna, the Maison de l’Europe in Paris, Lyon and the University of Bristol this summer.
We hope for these to be the firsts of many occasions to talk about the future of Europe, and to discuss the potential of each country to reshape the European political space. These initiatives, as much as those of the future, are going to be non-partisan events (i.e. there will be no party logos). Moreover, these events are not entirely academic, as they aim to be open to everyone and to involve all citizens. The modality is, more than that of the roundtable, the one of the agora, as the participation of the audience is indeed central.
As for the organization of the agora: we open the agora with a few introductory remarks on representation and appearance as the two main categories of political space. Each speaker has then the opportunity to make a brief introduction of about 8 minutes on the thematic issue of the agora: the European Union as a political and not merely economic union. We then delve into certain themes during the debate: fragility and labour – socialism vs populism – migration and citizenship – equality. For the events at Columbia we chose migration as the central theme.
Many prominent figures of the academic and political EU and US landscape have been participating or will be participating to the Agora Europe Series.