20th Karlsruhe Dialogues - Speakers

What Keeps Central Europe Together? New Challenges from Poland


Prof. Dr. Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski


Prof. Dr. Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski has been a professor of political science at the Willy Brandt Centre for German and European Studies of the University of Wrocław since 2009, and an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Potsdam since 2008. He studied political science from 1990 to 1995, earned his PhD (Osterweiterung der EU), and wrote his post-doctoral thesis on Citizenship and Collective Identity in Europe at the University of Potsdam, where he was also a research associate for the Chair of Political Theory from 1999 to 2008. Since 2007, he has been a visiting professor and visiting researcher in Europe, North America, and Asia, including at Harvard University, the Université de Montréal, New York University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of California in Santa Barbara, Pondicherry University in India, and the ‘Institut des Sciences Politiques’ in Lille. Karolewski’s research fields are European integration, nationalism in Europe, collective identities, citizenship/civil society, and EU foreign policy. He is the author and co-editor of several books, e.g. European Identity Revisited (2016), Extraterritorial Citizenship in Postcommunist Europe (2015), and The Nation and Nationalism in Europe (2011).




1. In your opinion, what are the values that unite the European Union? How can a joint European identity be better fostered in the future?

The European Union is suffering from a pluralism of values, which is problematic insofar as the EU is not defining its normative contours clearly enough. The European Union should define itself more clearly as a particular community that conveys its identity through “precious differences” rather than cosmopolitan impulses.


2. Are alternative models – such as a multi-speed Europe or a European Federation of Regions – conceivable?

A Europe comprised of different speeds has been a reality for a long time – the Schengen system and the Eurozone are the best-known examples of this. More specifically, the EU has been developing asymmetrically ever since the early 1990s, and this trend will continue to determine its future. A federation of regions is extremely unrealistic, since regions only have either limited political agency or no political agency at all within the EU.


3. Do you think that the current nationalist tendencies are a short-term phenomenon caused by recent crises; or do they represent the beginning of a long-term development?

The current nationalist aspirations are primarily a result of the EU’s crisis of legitimacy as well as the crisis of specific variants of capitalism in Southern Europe and Central Eastern Europe. Against this backdrop nationalism will determine the future of Europe in the medium term.