Published: 20 December 2023

Some thoughts on the achievements and growth of the Centre for Britain and Europe (CBE) throughout 2023… and our festive greetings!

As we bid farewell to an eventful 2023, we reflect on the incredible milestones and accomplishments that have defined this transformative year for us at the CBE. Together, we have navigated challenges, embraced opportunities, and collectively carved a path toward success through myriads of initiatives.

Among the largest undertakings this year was charting the future growth of CBE beyond 2023. This major exercise involved identifying future objectives and assessing our position as an institutional think tank. We spent considerable resources in the restructure of our offerings, the delivery of information, and the expansion of our research scope.

A significant highlight of this strategic effort was the 3-month project to revamp our digital presence. The outcome is a sleek, modern website that not only embodies our innovative spirit but also showcases our extensive work in British and European affairs. Navigating the CBE online is now a seamless and visually engaging experience, a testament to our commitment to staying at the forefront of digital innovation. Beyond the website, our digital footprint extends into our refreshed social media channels, as these remain vibrant hubs of interaction that connect our community, fostering engagement and information sharing. We have made improvements by reaching new audiences and solidifying our digital platform.

We renewed our vision and broadened the scope of our research and deliverables to include extensive engagement with local government and communities. In addition to our focus under the Jean Monnet pillars that encapsulate the study of Gender and Identity, Electoral Behaviour, European and British Security and Defence, as well as De-Europeanisation and Re-Europeanisation, we are also actively engaged in the study of Parties and Populism and Energy Security and Sustainability.

Our engagement with local stakeholders, particularly the Surrey business communities, has been instrumental to our growth. This was exemplified in the Surrey Inward investment workshop where influential business leaders from Deyton Bell, MHA, McLaren, Ringway, and DBT contributed to our ongoing work commissioned by the Surrey County Council. In our subsequent engagement in sustainability, we collaborated with the leaders in Surrey’s sustainability practices and are proud to note that we are now a member of the Surrey Climate Commission’s committee steering group. Our myriad of public engagements this year has undoubtedly helped us not only to connect with the public, but also coalesce with a communal network that encompasses policymakers, businesses, local government, academics, students, and the general public. These connections are the building blocks of a stronger, more resilient CBE.

We organised and led many events including an ESRC FOSS sustainability-themed event titled Green Means Go? Tackling Surrey's Climate Emergency Through Deliberative Democracy via collaboration with the local climate commission, the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES), and the Institute for Sustainability (IfS). Subsequently, we co-hosted an East Meets West forum with our esteemed partner at the Institute for International Studies (IIS) at Shandong University. This event brought academics and local governments together to deliberate on development, peace and inner-civilization exchanges. These gatherings served as a platform for people-to-people exchanges, bringing together participants from diverse backgrounds and solidifying our reputation as thought leaders in Public Diplomacy and International Relations. It was a testament to our commitment to advancing research and fostering collaboration and public engagement.

Finally, we marked the fourth anniversary of the CBE in November, coinciding with the three years of our outstanding achievements as a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence. We highlighted one of our proudest achievements of securing the inaugural Horizon Europe-funded consortium grant under the project title Reconfiguring the EU’s Democracy and Support Strategy in the Eastern Neighbourhood (REDEMOS). The occasion was graced by the presence of the Oxford’s Professor Jan Zielonka, and the LSE’s Dr Federica Bicchi as guest speakers, who presented on autocracies in Eastern Europe and the digitalisation of politics. This successful event was attended by many high-profile guests, including a former EU ambassador, senior policymakers, professionals, academics, and postgraduate students.

As we close the chapter on 2023, we do so with gratitude for the challenges faced, the success achieved, and the promising future that lies ahead. Together, we have proven that the CBE is not just an organisation, but rather a dynamic institution, driven by passion and dedication contributing to the betterment of society.

Here's to a fantastic year behind us and an even brighter one ahead!

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

Centre for Britain and Europe

20 December 2023

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