The 2024 European Public Policy Conference at IE


From April 12th to the 14th, IE University had the opportunity to co-host the European Public Policy Conference (EPPC)  alongside the Hertie School of Berlin. Established in 2008, the EPPC is sponsored by the IPLI Foundation who supports educational as well as public policy initiatives that unite students and academics to study complex public policy issues. The Conference is held annually at prestigious institutions around the world, spanning to locations such as Vienna, Austria in 2023 and Sofia, Bulgaria in 2018.

What is the Conference about?

Every year, the goal of the conference is to address prominent public policy issues with past themes including EU Energy Policies and EU Parliament Policy Making in order to critically assess the specific aspects such topics tackle and whether challenges to their implementation will arise in the future. Through themes of present relevance, the Conference seeks to foster an environment where students and experts have the opportunity for open dialogue on significant issues in order to draw out perspectives that may constructively shape our future. 

How did IE Students Help?

In order to understand the level of planning that is undertaken to carry out such an event, IE organising students Sam Ferdinand Chicharro and Ana Cebrian Solano recalled their experience and key takeaways from the Conference. They both highlighted the fact that at first, the IE Tower was simply meant to be the location where the event would be held without much involvement from IE Students themselves. The International Relations Society (IR Society) alongside the IE School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs instead proposed to have direct involvement alongside the Hertie School, partaking within the content team as well as the proposal for the Conference Agenda.

Particularly, four out of the ten panels held during the 3 days were organised and moderated by IE students. Ana particularly emphasised ideas proposed by the IE team in order to provide the most enriching experience for students such as having a longer question time at the end of each panel and having the speakers stay behind after each event in order to provide ample discussion time for engagement between experts and students. 

When addressing the overarching theme of the conference: “EU integration and disintegration”, both Sam and Ana highlighted how the IE organising team (compiled of members of the IR Society) equally worked with the Hertie School and was involved in selecting the specific topics encompassed within the theme rather than picking the primary issue in itself. They were very particular about the underlying meaning of the conference as well as the outcome they wished to achieve through the various discussions.

One of the panels organised by the IE Team was: “Analysing the rise of Euroscepticism”, debunking the myth that such a sentiment is growing but rather that it is given an eminent voice due to the expanding presence of far right parties. This panel was relevant to the theme as it showed that Euroscepticism isn’t leading to ideological disintegration within the EU.

Additionally, the panel on EU enlargement explored the possibility for expansion of the Union to include countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. It concluded that their integration would not be feasible in the near future due the fact that none of the above mentioned countries have friendly relations with their neighbours which is a requirement for the granting of EU membership. Interlinked with the above mentioned events, the panel on Building Bridges explored perspectives on the possibility of having a European passport and building a common European identity.

In the context of all panels, Sam stressed the significance of opening up discussion as even though decisions cannot directly be made at this very moment, students need to be given a voice in order to shed light on possible solutions for the future. To equip students with the appropriate tools to efficiently tackle such discussion, Ana mentioned how all panels had a mixture of theoretical and practical applications in order to provide a dynamic experience for participants.

Some Key Highlights

Putting the panels within the context of the conference, Sam and Anna highlighted some key takeaways that arose from the experience. Sam stressed the importance of propagating discussion on the functioning of the EU through events of a similar nature to the EPPC or simply through general conversation, as society in general does not possess enough knowledge on the actions of European institutions.

Even so, Ana accentuated that regardless of the above mentioned challenges when it comes to the workings of the EU, all speakers were positive about its future and the fact that the Union will keep on growing whether that be through its membership or a wider scope of applicable programs. Ultimately, the EPPC was an unprecedented opportunity that brought together students and academics to tackle issues of global significance.

Through this dialogue, Sam highlighted the concluding takeaway of the Conference: implementation of more transparency, accountability and democratisation of European affairs are vital aspects that need to be addressed in order to ensure progress within the EU. In order to work for the implementation of such goals, the European Public Policy Conference will continue to incite discussion on prevalent issues through its future editions.  

Image of the panel composed of Prof. Dr. Thurid Hustedt of the Hertie School and Darío García de Viedma of IE University Center for the Governance of Change. Hosted by Anisha Pathak and Kim Thao Schröder.

Vanessa Chioaru
Vanessa Chioaru
Hi! I’m Vanessa and I am from Romania. I am a dedicated first year law student who thorughly enjoys creative writing and debating. Being able to report on core issues concerning today’s society while offering a critical perspective is a passion I am excited to enrich through my work at the Stork.

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