Just Europe with Philippe Van Parijs

Tuesday 30 May 2017, 13:15 - 15:00

Council Room, UCL School of Public Policy, 29-30 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9QU

Speaker: Philippe Van Parijs (Université catholique de Louvain)
Series: Institute of Law, Politics and Philosophy

Note that the total time will be devoted to discussion of the paper

About the paper:

“The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists,” wrote Hayek, “is that it was their courage to be Utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and thereby an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote.” Next month it will be 500 years since the publication in Louvain of the first edition of Thomas More’s Utopia. But this is not the reason why we should revalue utopian thinking and utopian acting. Articulating our utopias is not just a way of enabling us to achieve what is possible. It makes possible what is currently impossible. Had Hayek not thought so and not been right in thinking so, his neo-liberalism would not be dominating the world half a century later. If we don’t want to remain forever stuck with neoliberalism or to leave the field wide open for nationalist or jihadist dystopias, what we need now is to learn from Hayek what he said he learned from the socialists. We need bold utopias, not least, for us Europeans, regarding the destiny of the European Union.

What would a just Europe look like? What does justice mean when applied to that weird political entity now called the European Union, which is neither a nation or a state, nor mankind as a whole? The succession of so-called crises the European Union has been going through in the last decade — financial crisis, euro crisis, refugee crisis, Brexit — has unsurprisingly triggered a vivid discussion about the very nature and purpose of the European Union. This is by no means the first time this happens in the history of the European institutions. But in the most recent discussion — between political leaders, in the general public and even among academics —, the issue of justice has been more salient than ever before: justice between member states, justice between European citizens and justice towards third country nationals. But what does justice demand in this context? This paper develops a vision for answering this question.