Paris – Brussels, 18 February 2014
With less than 100 days to go until the European Parliament elections and major upheavals in the EU institutions, urgent questions are arising about the direction of the European project. The first meeting of the 2014 selection of the “40 UNDER 40” – European Young Leaders programme, led by EuropaNova and Friends of Europe, was held in Brussels from 30 January – 1 February 2014. The Young Leaders gathered in the European institutions’ capital to discuss crucial topics ranging from the upcoming European leadership change to the Banking Union and the common energy policy, with a focus on shale gas.
Reflecting upon the effective leadership that Europe so desperately needs, Błażej Moder, Director of the New Center of Lodz Programme, noted that “we need to look for leaders in civil society who can balance out our politicians. We should look outside of politics to focus on empowered leaders who will defend good constitutions, rules, and institutions.”
Building up the EU narrative is the key to keeping public interest strong, indicated Tomáš Sedláček, Chief Macroeconomic Strategist at ČSOB, and author of bestseller Economy of Good and Evil: “There is much self-doubt in the EU, especially since the economic crisis,” he said. “The narrative is that the EU is more than the sum of its economies. The EU is a role model for the rest of the world in terms of fundamental values. Values that we do not even notice in the way that outsiders do.”
The Young Leaders and external participants agreed that Europe needs to step up its game and become more attractive in a globalised world. Nina Rawal, Investment Manager at Industrifonden (Swedish Industrial Development Fund), underlined that “the EU needs to get its house in order. We need to understand what we are offering so that it becomes clear for prospective member states what they can be a part of.”
The 2014 selection will meet for their second seminar in Rome in July to discuss the upcoming Italian EU Presidency. The seminar will include interactive sessions, Young Leader curated activities, workshops and case studies in close collaboration with the local partners.
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