Professor Nicolaidis was a member of the EU’s group of ‘Wise Men’ which was convened by the European Council of Heads of State and sat between 2008 and 2010. The group was tasked with exploring how the EU could respond to the longer-term challenges such as economic reform, foreign policy, demography, migration and climate change. Nicolaidis was nominated by Gordon Brown and Jose Manuel Barroso among others, and was the only full-time academic member of the group which was chaired by Felipe González, the former Prime Minister of Spain, and included among its members the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, the former president of Latvia, Vaira Vike Freiberga, the head of the UK’s CBI Richard Lambert, and Mario Monti, who shortly afterwards became Prime Minister of Italy.
Professor Nicolaidis’s membership of the group represented a departure from the EU’s usual policy of using its bureaucratic and diplomatic networks to assemble panels. As President Freiberga noted:
“The selection of the members of the group was based on their previous experience and reputation, so the fact that Kalypso was chosen in a group of twelve for the whole of Europe speaks for itself.”
During the two year period of consultation Nicolaidis worked with a ‘cabinet’ of colleagues from DPIR, the law department and the European Studies Centre, as well as with a network of academics in Europe and beyond. The Oxford cabinet embraced the opportunity presented by the Reflection Group process to share the research being undertaken by academics in Oxford and elsewhere with political opinion formers and decision makers.
The final report, Project Europe 2030, was published at the nadir of the Eurozone
crisis, but its recommendations were influential even at a time when long-term policy making was on the backburner, and the group’s work has influenced subsequent EU decisions on migration, enlargement and financial reform.
Involvement in the European policymaking debate has been a constant in Professor Nicolaidis’s career. She worked as an advisor to George Papandreou when he served as the Greek foreign minister, and also advised the European Council during its Dutch presidency. She has also worked with the UN’s Organisation on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the OECD, the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Nicolaidis’s focus on the EU’s role as both a global agent and a global subject has been of great significance in a context where the European agenda is often dominated by the EU’s internal problems.