EU Ambassador to the US and Financial Times Editor to Headline Conference on Migration and Displacement

Wars that devastated Europe over the past 100 years can still teach valuable lessons on the long-term impact of population displacement. The lasting outcomes of wars in Europe that have driven population displacement will be the focus at an upcoming conference, Nov. 8–10 at UW–Madison’s Pyle Center.

The conference, “War’s End? The Legacy of Migration and Displacement, Europe 1918–2018,” will feature international experts on the social, legislative, and cultural effects of migration and displacement that has been a direct result of war. The event, held in conjunction with the centenary of Armistice Day, is sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies (CGES) and the Center for European Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“We have a great deal of historical evidence of how violence and tension over borders dramatically affects people’s lives for the worse,” said Elizabeth Covington, European Studies executive director. “We are trying to trace the effects of population displacement and put into effect some of the lessons we have learned historically.”

The conference will be headlined by two distinguished speakers, EU Ambassador to the U.S. David O’Sullivan and Financial Times Associate Editor Wolfgang Münchau.

O’Sullivan’s career has included several senior posts in the European public service. He previously served as chief operating officer of the European External Action Service before being appointed as EU ambassador to the U.S. in 2014.

O’Sullivan is expected to speak on the state of the European Union’s relationship with the United States, giving perspectives on free trade, ramifications on NATO as a result of free trade, and how Europe is responding to China-U.S. competition.

“The ambassador is an expert on international trade and the effects of impediments to free trade,” said Pamela Potter, CGES director. “We expect him to talk about the implications of international tariffs on global and even local Wisconsin trade, such as agriculture and manufacturing.”

Münchau is an associate editor of the Financial Times, a London-based, international newspaper focusing on economic and business news. Throughout his career, he has covered key issues, such as the launch of the Euro and its impact on economic development and global trade, Britain’s future in the EU, and the economic ramifications of European integration. Münchau is also co-founder and director of Eurointelligence, an internet-based news source offering economic news and analysis of the Euro area. He is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“Just in the last weeks, Münchau has published on how increasing political polarization in Germany has direct ramifications for European politics more broadly, including the effects of populism and demographic shifts on perceptions of democracy,” said Nils Ringe, CES director. “This is the type of political moment in which migration and displacement of populations can become volatile issues.”

The conference also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the founding of CGES, a center that fosters vibrant interdisciplinary research on Germany and Europe. In addition to the featured speakers, a variety of panels, poster presentations, lectures and a concert will explore the effects of war and population migration then and now on policies, societies, identities and cultural expressions in literature and the performing arts. Each session will provide a clearer picture of the true extent to which population displacement changes our world.

The conference is free and open to the public. More information about the event is available at