Crisis in the liberal world order: what future for the West? Conference at Nottingham Trent University


An international conference with speakers (both academic and active politicians / members of the policy community) from both Nottingham Trent University and the European Union’s policy community.

  • FromThursday 12 October 201710 am
  • ToThursday 12 October 20175 pm
  • LocationAdams Room, Nottingham Conference Centre, Burton Street, Nottingham, NG1 4BU
  • Booking deadlineWednesday 11 October 2017, 5.00 pm

Event details

This conference will review current challenges confronting the European liberal order and the West in general, from Brexit and the onset of American opposition to multilateralism and the threat to liberal politics from populist  and insurgent politics.

The conference will address these challenges, and how and by what means they might be successfully resolved.


10 am – 10.30 am: Opening remarks

Professor Cillian Ryan, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, College of Business Law & Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University

Roland Freudenstein, Martens Centre Policy Director

Dr Michael O’Neill, NTU Reader in Politics and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Politics

10.30 am – 12 pm: Brexit: causes, impact and consequences

The vote for Brexit represents a milestone in European contemporary history. The United Kingdom is the second largest economy in the European Union in terms of GDP and has the third largest population of the bloc. Moreover, the loss of a member state poses larger questions about the integration process in what has already been a crisis-ridden decade for the European continent. The negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union on withdrawal and their future relationship bring significant uncertainty to an already delicate balance.

The panel will reflect on Brexit’s roots causes and consider whether it was just a manifestation of British exceptionalism or the symptom of a mounting challenge to the European idea. Border arrangements with Northern Ireland and Gibraltar will also be considered, as well as the possible impact on Brexit on the European Union and its future.


  • Cees Van der Eijk, Professor of Social Science Research Methods, University of Nottingham and British Electoral Survey
  • Rt Hon. Anna Soubry MP, Broxtowe
  • Elmar Brok MEP, Committee on Constitutional Affairs, European Parliament (TBC)
  • Dr Richard Wellings, Deputy Research Director, Institute of Economic Affairs  

Moderator: Roland Freudenstein, Martens Centre Policy Director

12 pm – 1 pm: Lunch

1 pm – 2.30 pm: The security dimension

The United Kingdom is a permanent member on the United Nations Security Council and an invaluable actor in internal security, not least in the field of counter-terrorism. Brexit puts into question the depth of Britain’s involvement in EU security arrangements at a time when the United States sends contradicting signals about its commitment to the current international order and when terrorism is a chief threat to European Union citizens. Furthermore, the current state of international politics in the EU’s neighbourhood is tense, involving stark disagreements with the Russian Federation and Turkey.

The panel will discuss the future of EU security after Brexit, what will happen to Atlanticism under President Trump, and how the EU can manage relations with neighbours of different interests and ideologies than itself. Notably, how far should the EU – an organisation committed to liberal internationalism and values – compromise those values by bargaining with an authoritarian state?


  • David McAllister MEP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament (TBC)
  • Nitika Srivastava, Adenauer fellow, Free University Berlin
  • Dr Christopher Baker-Beall, Lecturer in International Relations, Nottingham Trent University
  • Dr Marianna Poberezhskaya, Lecturer in International Relations, Nottingham Trent University

Moderator: Dr Natalie Martin, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Nottingham Trent University and former BBC journalist

2.30 pm – 3 pm: Coffee break

3 pm – 4.30 pm: The liberal order under threat?

The rise of nativist and populist politics, the resurgence of assertive states challenging the current international order, and the re-distribution of power in the international system question the viability and future of the liberal world order. Within the European Union and in the United States citizens have become disgruntled with the status quo and, in some cases, turn to far-right or far-left populists to stave off the technological, economic, and societal changes associated with globalisation. Externally, the increasing role states which do not support liberal values play in the international system deserves serious consideration.

Are these developments hallmarks of a new international order based on different value systems? Do China, Russia, and Turkey present viable alternatives to the current international order? Is there a fatigue in Western democracies?


  • Baroness Smith of Newnham, International Relations Department, University of Cambridge and Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords (TBC)
  • Constantine Arvanitopoulos, Professor of International Relations at the Department of International and European Studies at Panteion University
  • Florian Hartleb, political consultant, former Martens Centre visiting fellow

Moderator: Federico Reho, Martens Centre Research Officer

4.30 pm: Closing remarks – Can the West survive its present turbulence?

Speaker: Rt Hon. Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Rushcliffe