DASICON2018 We need to talk about Europe! The European Union's Challenges & Opportunities Ahead.

Sebastian Kurz

Introductory Remarks

Sebastian Kurz © ÖVP

Dear students of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna! Dear participants of DASICON2018!

Given the latest developments in European politics, the topic of your conference “We need to talk about Europe: The European Union’s challenges & opportunities ahead” is very appropriate. The EU has experienced several serious challenges over the last couple of years. The financial and economic crisis threatened to destabilise our economic integration. The migration crisis showed that some European structures are not fit for purpose and the deteriorating security situation in the Union’s neighbourhood made it clear that we need close and joint cooperation on security and defence issues.
The upcoming third Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is a great privilege and opportunity for us. During Austria’s six months at the helm of the EU Council, we will focus on topics which are of particular importance to European citizens and on policy areas where the European Union must achieve progress.

• Improving the security situation within the Union, but also in the Union’s neighbourhood remains high on the agenda. Providing feasible, efficient and sustainable solutions in the fields of migration and asylum policy, the protection of the EU’s external borders, the fight against terrorism and preventing radicalisation are, to name a few, the most important topics in this regard.
• Bringing the Union closer to its citizens by applying the principle of subsidiarity more effectively will be another of Austria’s priorities. The EU should focus on delivering more and above all, quickly in selected policy areas while doing less elsewhere. In other words, we need more European integration when it comes to security, foreign or defence policy, but also more opportunities for local, regional or national solutions in other areas.
• Furthering rapprochement with our neighbours in the Western Balkans is and will remain a traditional priority for Austria. We will support all efforts for a closer integration of these countries into the EU, which also presents the best incentive to speed up their respective reform processes.
• The continued deepening of the Single Market, especially the Digital Single Market, is vital for future success of the European economy. Austria will strive to achieve decisive progress in this field. At the same time, it is of utmost importance to ensure that the digital space is resilient and that the Union and the Member States have the necessary tools to stand up against cyber threats.
• Last, but not least we will have to deal with the future of the Union itself. For the first time, a Member State will leave the Union. We must ensure that this process is conducted as orderly and efficiently as possible. Brexit is a wake-up call for all of us – but it also provides a unique opportunity to prepare the Union for the future.

The European Union will continue to face new – and old – challenges. In order to meet these challenges and to benefit from new opportunities, the Union needs to be more efficient, stronger in certain areas, closer to its citizens, and must remain united. During Austria’s EU-Presidency, we will strive to contribute to these objectives, always keeping in mind the interests of European citizens and the added-value the Union can provide.
The programme of DASICON2018 addresses all these questions – and beyond. Dear students of DASICON, you have manged to put together an excellent programme featuring an impressive list of speakers. I wish you a successful event, interesting talks and fruitful discussions. We need to talk more about Europe – and events such as yours ensure that the thoughts and aspirations of the European youth are heard in the debate about the future of Europe – your future!

Sebastian Kurz
Federal Chancellor of Austria.