At the heart of all the research undertaken in the Aston Centre for Europe lies the notion of rethinking European integration from the bottom up, without being afraid to challenge long-ingrained theories or to ask difficult questions.
There is no time like the present to rethink Europe. Since the economic and financial crisis began, there has been a steadily growing stream of comment and criticism about what the European Union should do to address our present predicament. This has been increasingly coupled with criticism not only about the way the European Union has responded or not responded to the crisis, but also about the whole nature of European construction that has touched on both what could be called the idea of Europe and the ideal of Europe. At no time since the immediate post-Second World War period has there been more discussion about what the choices for Europe are or should be.
The crisis of confidence also stems from the material problems that the great crisis ofcapitalism has brought to European prosperity - two separate but equally threateningphenomena. The first and the more prosaic of the two is our ageing society, for whichEuropean states are still not fully prepared - even though the consequences of a change inthe balance between the economically active and the retired have been known about sinceat least the mid-1970s. The second crisis is existential in nature and far less predictableboth in its timing and its effects and comes from the potentially ruinous effects of climatechange. These will alter radically our perceptions about what kind of lifestyle is desirable or even possible for humankind. Thus Europe itself and the wider context of Europe’s place in the world are changing at a rapidly increasing pace.
The Aston Centre for Europe aims to assess what these conundrums mean for Europeanintegration and Europe’s place in a globalised world. In particular, four mainstreamchallenges for Europe are:
At the heart of all the research undertaken in the Aston Centre for Europe lies the notionof rethinking European integration from the bottom up, without being afraid to challengelong-ingrained theories or to ask difficult questions. The Centre’s research, by its nature, has a practical application and an excellent track record in this area, providing advice to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, HM Treasury, European institutions, international aid donors and private enterprise. The Aston Centre for Europe is a bridge-building organisation that is always looking for new partners and opportunities, and offers considerable expertise on France, Germany, Poland, the Balkans, Russia and Eastern Europe.
For more information visit the Aston Centre for Europe webpages or download issue 2 of Aston Advances.