Panel Discussion on the Future of Multinational States

On the 5 December 2023, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive Brussels in partnership with The Embassy of Ireland to Belgium and The Institute of International and European Affairs hosted a panel discussion on the future of political and economic unions, including the enlargement of the EU.

As part of the event, Professor Alvin Jackson launched his new book United Kingdoms: Multinational Union States in Europe and Beyond, 1800-1925. Professor Jackson’s presentation highlighted the key findings of his latest work on ‘Why do unions fail?’ and covered a geographical breadth from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. The book offers new overarching arguments and taxonomies concerning the origins, survival, and fall of all union states, and in doing so it sheds fresh light on the particular history, condition, and fate of the UK.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion. The panel comprised of Dr Ionela Maria Ciolan and Professor Donnacha Ó Beacháin, alongside Professor Alvin Jackson, who all shared their expertise with the audience and engaged in an insightful Q+A with the audience, who asked question surrounding the future of the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond. A fruitful discussion took place with many stimulating comments and questions.

Alvin Jackson is the Sir Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh. He was educated at Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College Oxford. He has taught at University College Dublin, Boston College and at Queen’s University Belfast. He is the author of seven books, including The Two Unions: Ireland, Scotland and the Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2007, and has edited The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish History. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Member of the Academia Europaea, and an honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Dr. Ionela Maria Ciolan is a Research Officer at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, focusing on European Foreign Policy, Security and Defence. Her areas of interest and expertise include European Security and Defence Policy, European Foreign Policy, NATO, Black Sea security, Arctic security, transatlantic relations, and EU relations with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. In addition, Ionela is a 2023-2024 Re.Think CEE Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and part of the 2023 Transatlantic Security Initiative of the International Republican Institute. Previously, she worked as a security and defence researcher at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Donnacha Ó Beacháin is Professor of Politics at the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University (DCU) where he lectures on post-Soviet politics, unrecognised states, Irish studies and foreign policy. Professor Ó Beacháin was awarded a major grant by Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Conflict Resolution Unit to lead a research team to examine the role of the OSCE and EU in the post-Soviet protracted conflicts. Professor Ó Beacháin is currently a core member of the EU-funded projects LABOUR, SHADOW and NEW MARKETS and MARKETS which are primarily focussed on the post-Soviet space.

The event was concluded with a seasonal networking reception to welcome in the festive period.