400+ participants / 50+ speakers / 15+ panels


Day 1

15:30 – 16:30

The EU’s Own Illiberal Challenge: Authoritarians in the House and the Backyard

Eight years have passed since Viktor Orbán announced the idea to build the ideological foundations of Hungary as an illiberal state.

Based on a handful of examples of this type of government throughout Europe, it is clear today what this socio-political construct represents in practice – less freedom, less democracy, less justice, and more systemic corruption, populism, and even xenophobia. During this period, the authoritarian leaders of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as of the Western Balkans, found common interests and began building alliances as a counterweight to Western European democratic states. Those interests often intertwine on issues of migrant policy, the rule of law, security policy, and the EU enlargement policy, with cultivation of ever stronger ties with China and Russia having become a key motive. The pandemic, migrant flows and wars have further fuelled these ideas and contributed to the growth of authoritarianism.

What is the scope of the illiberal political system? Will the trend of establishing authoritarian governments stop, or are they the future of Europe? Is there room for democracy in the uncertain future? Where did the EU go wrong in the fight against such challenges? What do these trends mean for citizens and their rights? And what about EU enlargement?

Milica Delevic
Natacha Kazatchkine
Selim Koru
Zsuzsanna Szelényi
Una Hajdari




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