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Students explore “Borders in transition” at 10th annual European Public Policy Conference in Sofia

Students gathered at the 10th European Public Policy Conference (EPPC) in Sofia, Bulgaria at the European Commission on 13-15 April. Photo: ©Stephane MinhVu

Students, practitioners and stakeholders discuss fault lines in security, technology and society.

Download the full 2018 EPPC report here.

Seventy-five participants, including 40 Hertie School students, explored the topic of borders in transition at the 10th European Public Policy Conference (EPPC) in Sofia, Bulgaria at the European Commission on 13-15 April. This year’s theme, “Borders in Transition: Creating, Removing, Re-imagining”, offered a platform to discuss changes to both literal and figurative borders, and what these mean for the Europe’s future.

The conference took a broad view on the subject, widening it out to span three areas: instable borders, security and the nation-state; disconnection, technology and the removal of borders; and invisible borders within society. Participants focused on topics ranging such as  LGBTQ rights, migration and blockchain technology, all of which are connected by a common theme:  each stands at a “fault line” of change and uncertainty for society today.

Panel discussion, "Migration: Narratives between security and integration in the EU" with Svetoslav Ivanov (Journalist, bTV), Jessica Bither (Policy officer, GMF), and Nick Vaughan-Williams (Professor of International Security, University of Warwick). Photo: ©Stephane MinhVu
Students gathered at the 10th European Public Policy Conference (EPPC) in Sofia, Bulgaria at the European Commission on 13-15 April. Photo: ©Stephane MinhVu
The conference featured panel discussions, keynote lectures and workshops (pictures). Photo: ©Stephane MinhVu
Keynote speaker Ognian Zlatev, Head of the European Commission Representation in Sofia. Photo: ©Stephane MinhVu

The keynote speaker was Ognian Zlatev, Head of the European Commission Representation in Sofia. Bulgaria currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of Europe. This year’s student EPPC chairs were first-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) student Felix Janssen and first-year Master of International Affairs (MIA) student Sean Witry.

“It was a very well-rounded conference with an overarching theme that participants examined from many perspectives,” said student organiser Felix Janssen. “The good thing about having a broader topic was that it drew people from very different backgrounds. Even in the blockchain session, which was very technical, the professor managed to reference the conference theme.”

The EPPC conference is organised annually by first-year master’s degree students at the Hertie School of Governance and sponsored by the IPLI Foundation. Each year, students come up with a public policy theme, decide on topics, invite speakers and organise workshops and discussions. The conference rotates to a new European capital, also chosen by the students, every year. Around 75 scholars, stakeholders and students attended this year's conference.