skip to content

SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT: Ian Kearns, co-Founder of the European Leadership Network

Dr Ian Kearns is co-Founder of the European Leadership Network, is former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research and author of Collapse: Europe after the European Union. He will be speaking in the discussion Europe in the age of extremes on 18th October.


Question: What is the European Leadership Network and why was it set up?

Ian Kearns: It is a network of former European Prime Ministers, Foreign and Defence Secretaries, senior diplomats and military leaders set up to promote collaborative European solutions to security challenges inside Europe and beyond.


Q: What has the reaction been to your book?

IK: Eurosceptics hate it because it is pro-European in tone. Supporters of the EU find the account of the EU's failings and vulnerabilities hard to take. But the institution needs tough love if it is to survive!


Q: Do you believe the EU can withstand all the pressures it is currently facing?

IK: While I wish it were otherwise, the answer is no.


Q: Is the most dangerous threat to it an internal rather than an external one?

IK: No, it is the combination of both and the way in which all the threats interact with and feed off each other that is most dangerous.


Q: What, in your view, do EU leaders need to do to address these issues?

IK: Abandon the search for ever-closer union epitomised by the campaign for fiscal union and loosen ties in order to make the politics of Europe more flexible and responsive to specific national needs and concerns.


Q: Do you think Brexit has galvanised pro-EU forces on the continent?

IK: No. I think Brexit is seen as a side-show by the rest of the continent.


Q: What impact could the collapse of the EU have across the continent and beyond?

IK: It would plunge Europe into a depression; lead to the spread of a nationalist-fuelled politics of scapegoating; produce strong-man leaders in a number of European countries; likely undermine and destroy NATO; and lead to an expansion of Russian and Chinese influence on the continent.


Q: How is it possible to get this message through to people who consider such warnings "Project Fear"?

IK: Write books, articles and deliver speeches to try to wake them up!