The European Union and Its Neighborhood

Event Date: May 9

Reception 5:30 p.m.; Annual Meeting 6:00 p.m.; Dinner 6:15 p.m.; Program 7:30 p.m.

Location: Club Room, Hoogland Center for the Arts

Speaker: Konstantinos Kourtikakis, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All programs are free and open to the public. Dinners require a reservation.

The European Union is surrounded by countries with political and economic systems that do not conform to its values in two important ways. First, while the EU supports democracy and good governance, most
of its neighbors in North Africa and Eastern Europe have embraced authoritarianism, despite occasional outbursts of democratic movements, such as the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine or the Arab Spring. And second, while the EU relies on the principles of the free market economy, many of its neighbors pursue economic policies that significantly distort market competition for political purposes.

The EU actively seeks to reduce these differences with neighboring countries by promoting pro-democracy and pro-free market reforms in its foreign policy. In this talk, Dr. Kourtikakis examines two types of foreign policy action the EU takes in this regard. The first is reaching out directly to governments with formal agreements that include penalties and rewards in exchange for reforms. And the second is providing technical support to government agencies, the civil society and business organizations, with the aim of helping them adopt democratic and free market norms and practices.

Dr. Kourtikakis is Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a specialization in comparative and international politics. He also holds affiliations with the European Union Center and the Center for Global Studies. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, and his BA in European and International Economics and Politics from the University of Macedonia, in Greece, in 1997. His teaching and research interests revolve around the European Union and its external relations. His research examines the role of business and civil society networks in relations between the EU and its “international partners”, particularly the countries of Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and most recently in EU-US relations.