Thanks to the European Union Centre of Excellence (EUCE), the Dal community was able to hear from several compelling international voices this term.
Hosted by Dalhousie, the centre runs one of the more active ongoing public lecture series on campus. In 2014 alone, the centre hosted 16 different public lectures, many of them timed or in relation to major events happening in Europe.
Among the guests that spoke on campus this term were two notable ambassadors: Marcin Bosacki, Poland’s ambassador to Canada, and Marie-Anne Coninsx, the European Union’s ambassador to Canada.
Bosacki became Poland’s ambassador to Canada in September 2013. Prior to that he served as a press spokesman for the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In his lecture, he outlined Poland’s impressive success after the fall of communism. Over the past 30 years, the republic has had one of the highest growths in productivity in Europe. “It was achieved, first and foremost, by the hard work and energy of the people of Poland: teachers, workers, carpenters,” said Bosacki.
“With new challenges at our borders, I can assure you that Poland will always support principles of freedom and democracy,” he added.
Given the timing, both Bosacki and Coninsx addressed the geopolitical implications of Russia’s moves into the Ukraine.
“The position of Russia is totally unacceptable for democratic socitieis like the European Union and Canada and it is very important that we show the outside world that we cannot accept it,” said Coninsx.
Coninsx, who is Belgian, has been an official of the European Union since 1984, serving as ambassador to Mexico before becoming ambassador to Canada in September 2013. She spoke about the uniqueness and importance of the Canada-European relationship — among other points, she noted that Canada is the only non-European partner to take part in the EU’s electoral observation missions.
Her address at Dal took place timed around the signing of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on September 26. “This will be the most comprehensive trade agreement ever between Canada and the European Union,” said Coninsx. “It means opening markets for each other’s products.”
She said the expectation is that 99 per cent of tariffs on goods exchanged between Canada and the EU will be eliminated. It will take up to two years for the agreement to be fully implemented.
Next term, the EUCE is co-hosting the Department of Political Science’s annual graduate symposium on the topic: “System Breakdown? Critical Reflections on the European Union in Canada.” Proposals are due December 10.
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