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The turmoil generated by the global financial meltdown of 2008 has cast a spotlight on the major challenge at the heart of the European Union. As the private-sector catastrophe has spilled over, giving rise to a public crisis, the failure of national economies in EU member states has crystallised the issue for debate: integrate or wither away. German Chancellor Merkel stressed the need for 'more Europe' at the WEF meeting in Davos.

In a quest to define a more coherent and efficient role in the changing global strategic environment, the EU's capacity to move forward on the back of effective reform is of great interest in international affairs.

The current economic crisis has accelerated the transition to a multi-polar system; the emergence of new global players may prove a valuable opportunity for constructive partnerships between existing and emerging powers, and for concerted efforts to address global issues and challenges.

Key questions:

• How can the EU re-energise and reposition itself in the emerging strategic landscape?

• The EU and emerging powers in the 21st century: competitors or partners?

• Politics: a barrier to, or enabler of, economic and social stability?

• What changes will the new leaders bring to the table?