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Emeritus Professor appointed senior advisor on European Democracy report

15 March 2022

Professor John Loughlin
Professor John Loughlin

At a time when democracy in Europe is at the forefront of our minds, an Emeritus Professor at the School of Law and Politics is Senior Expert Advisor to the High Level Group reporting on European Democracy at the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Professor John Loughlin taught European Politics at Cardiff University until 2010 and is now part of the group chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council, tasked with supporting the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in its contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that has enabled people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future. The conference has been taking place via plenaries and an online hub since 2019 and is expected to reach its conclusions by summer 2022.

The Report of the High Level Group on European Democracy was presented to the conference in February 2022 and identified and assessed the main challenges facing democracy today, and reflected on how some of these could best be addressed.

Amongst many points raised, the report discusses the challenges to democracy in Europe, including how the digital revolution and social media have changed the conditions in which democracy is exercised. There have been countless positive developments in this area with opportunities to communicate with others and access to information seemingly limitless. However, the report states that digital platforms have also lowered the standard of debate and filled the space with inaccurate, unsubstantiated information.

The report also argues that the strengthening of European democracy must come from the bottom up by empowering citizens, for example by strengthening regional and local democracy as the governments closest to citizens. It cites the Conference on the Future of Europe as a positive example of putting citizens in the driving seat; giving them more opportunities to get involved in determining the direction in which democracy can go. It also suggests that younger generations who have grown up in a more open and mobile Europe where common currency, tourism, cultural exchanges and continental sports events are as standard make for a more hopeful future.

Speaking of his involvement in the report, Professor Loughlin said, “It was a great privilege for me to participate in drawing up this report on the future of European democracy. Europe is currently at a cross-roads and is reflecting on its future especially given the challenges posed by populism, Brexit and the threats posed by states such as Russia and China. Liberal democracy is a key European value which must be reinforced in the face of these challenges and threats.”

Professor Loughlin is an expert in territorial governance – federalism, regionalism, local government and has recently published an edited book Human Dignity in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition (Bloomsbury, 2019).

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