The first “Hamburg Speech on the Future of Europe” organized as part of the multi-year conference series “Hamburg-Vigoni Forum”, took place on Friday, April 28, 2023 in the atrium of the Hamburg State and University Library. Over 200 participants from academia, politics and society were present as Egils Levits, Latvian President and alumnus of the University of Hamburg spoke on the future of Europe. In his perspective as a scientist and politician, Levits was optimistic about the future of Europe: “Europe will be as Europe should be.”

The Hamburg-Vigoni Forum, sponsored by the University of Hamburg, Europa-Kolleg Hamburg, IFSH and Villa Vigoni, had originally invited Levits to speak in Hamburg as early as February 24, 2022. But due to the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, he had to travel directly back to Latvia last year. On April 28, 2023, his visit and speech could finally take place, but it was still dominated by the Ukraine war.

In his welcome address, Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren, President of the University of Hamburg, emphasized the importance of the event in light of the current political developments in Europe. The past 14 months marked a turning point in European politics and the question arises how Europe holds together as a community of law and values and what constitutes the future of Europe.

The panel discussion that followed addressed the question of what holds the European Union together in the face of national and international crises. Participating in the debate were H.E. Oleksii Makeiev, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Federal Republic of Germany, Almut Möller, State Councillor and Plenipotentiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation and for European Affairs, and Ivo Belet, Senior Expert in the Cabinet of the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography.

Egils Levits was born in Riga in 1955 and attended the Latvian Gymnasium in Münster from 1973 after his Jewish family was expelled from the Soviet Union. He studied law from 1982 and political science from 1986 at the University of Hamburg.