Centre for European Studies Holds Third Lecture Series

The Centre for European Studies (CES) has held its Third Lecture Series on Tuesday 31st October, 2017 at the Kofi Drah Conference Hall of the Department of Political Science, University of Ghana. The theme for the lecture was The State of the European Union Today.  The event was chaired by Ambassador Giovanni Favilli, Italian Ambassador to Ghana. It was attended by over four hundred participants comprising representatives and ambassadors of the European Union member countries in Ghana, civil society, media practitioners, faculty and students of the University of Ghana.

In his welcome remarks, Prof Ransford Gyampo, Director for the Centre noted that CES has since its inception in 2016, been relentless in its diverse activities to inspire interest in European studies among faculty and students of the University of Ghana and beyond. Indeed, this year (2017), according to Prof Gyampo, the Centre has been able to organize two lecture series/roundtables on topical issues germane to European Studies with the support of key stakeholders such as the European Union (EU) Delegation and other EU Member countries in Ghana. These, he noted, have culminated in the preparation and distribution of Policy Briefs to EU- Member countries as well as other key stakeholders and policy makers in Ghana. 

Prof. Ransford Gyampo, Director of CES Delivering His Welcome Remarks

The third lecture series according to the CES Director was organized following extensive evidence-based research focussing on the European Union as a body. Giving the importance of Europe in world politics, Prof Gyampo was of a firm belief and conviction that an understanding of what is happening in the EU in contemporary times would help put issues of European Studies in proper perspective and shape the knowledge of students. Even though the EU is a powerful bloc in contemporary politics, some people, according to Prof Gyampo, have doubts and paranoia about its current state following Brexit and other challenges. “So, what is the state of the EU today? What is its relevance in contemporary world politics?  Are there signs of strength or future disintegration of the Union? What can be done to strengthen the Union?”  These and other thought provoking questions according to the CES Director were to be answered in the lecture to be presented the discussions thereafter.  He urged all participants to bring their perspectives to bear on discussions so they can all leave with a firm grasp and understanding of the state of the European Union Today. Prof Gyampo thanked the European Union Delegation for its continuous support for the Centre’s activities.

In his brief remarks, Ambassador Giovanni Favilli, Italian Ambassador to Ghana commended the CES and its Director for the enthusiasm and hard-work in keeping and sustaining the name and image of the Centre in the hearts and minds of the EU-Member countries in Ghana. He was also happy that the headquarters of the EU in Brussels have also taken note of the establishment and vibrant activities of CES. He stressed the importance of the theme for the lecture to the EU as a body. He commended the CES for fashioning out a theme which is very relevant and topical in the EU’s scheme of activities and thought. He pledged to work with the EU-Delegation in Ghana to institutionalize support and collaboration between the CES, the University of Ghana as a whole and the EU-Member Countries in Ghana. Once again, he commended Prof. Ransford Gyampo for his leadership role in keeping the Centre vibrant and very much known to the EU-community in Ghana.

Ambassador Giovanni Favilli, Italian Ambassador to Ghana and Chairman for the Third CES Lecture Series

Presenting the outcome of his research, Dr. Bossman Eric Asare, Adjunct Fellow of CES & Head of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana noted that despite its stature in global politics as a powerful bloc and its contribution to the socio-economic and political development of many Third World countries including Ghana, the EU has in recent times been shaken by several developments that call into question the prospects of the Union in the not too distant future. According to him, BREXIT is a clear case of domestic political interests trumping regional or international interests. Similarly, there is an obvious indication that some EU member countries are beginning to make demands that are counterintuitive to regionalism. More specifically, nationalism according to the lead researcher is gaining prominence as some member states are beginning to think that the EU seem not to be concerned about their domestic, internal issues but rather more about EU-wide issues.  Also, serious immigration challenges as well as the emergence of ultra conservatives in the domestic politics of EU member states apparently suggests the influence these parties are exerting on several individuals in their countries in a manner that undermines EU integration.

In spite of what appears to be challenging times, form a broader perspective, the EU according to Dr. Asare remains a formidable force in the global political economy.  For instance, the unexpected emergence of the US President, Mr. Donald Trump on the global political scene has given EU leaders several reasons to work collectively as a unit. There are clear indications that Mr.  Trump’s style of governance is unorthodox and largely inconsistent with mainstream EU views. Many EU leaders according to Dr. Asare, have expressed reservations about the US leaders’ open rebuke of international institutions that have been at the forefront of championing global peace, economic stability. Literally, many EU leaders do not want Mr. Trump to be dictating to them and this would work perfectly in solidifying EU integration. 

Dr. Bossman Eric Asare, Adjunct Fellow, CES and Lead Researcher Delivering His Findings at the Third CES Lecture Series

To remain a force to reckon with in global politics, Dr.  Asare made the following recommendations:

1.       The EU leadership must address inequality in a way that shows that there are concerns for the vulnerable countries in the Union.

2.       There must be a proactive approach to addressing conflicts in countries outside the EU as a means of reducing the number of refugees entering Europe.

3.       EU must be committed to the economic and political transformation of poor countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa such as Eritrea whose citizens unceasingly go to the Europe.

4.       There is the need for a deliberate agenda to reduce the influence of the far right in the European body politic.