Open session at the EYL40 Seminar in Warsaw

09 March 2018 - 16:45 - 18:15
Dharmendra Kanani, Stefánia Kapronczay, Sammy Mahdi

How do you feel about your role as a citizen and your relationship with political leaders? Does your vote count? Would you want to be involved in decision making at local, national and European level? Do you want to be among 100 citizens to take part in an inspiring discussion with talented young leaders from a wide range of fields?

Every year, the think tank Friends of Europe brings together a new class of European Young Leaders, aged 40 and under, who have made their mark in a wide range of fields - including politics, science, business, media, NGOs, arts and civil society - and who are heading for the topmost ranks of European leadership.

In March 2018, the European Young Leaders will meet at the beginning of a pre-election year for the EU, during which the jostling of right-wing populists and left-leaning neoliberals will move from the national arenas of member states to take centre-stage at the regional level. It's a key moment for European citizens to examine their understanding of the European project, assess its strengths and weaknesses as well as their expectations for the future of the Union. The session will provide a unique opportunity to meet the young leaders and alumni in an informal setting to discuss Europe's key challenges.

You can register to the session here.

Please note that the session will be held in English. This debate is executed in cooperation with the City of Warsaw, the office of the Polish Ombudsman and the Casimir Pulaski Foundation.

Engage with the European Young Leaders Programme on Twitter and Facebook for more news on the young leaders and alumni

16.15 - 16.45


16.45 - 18.15

You will have a unique opportunity to help identify three key recommendations for ways to improve the direct participation of citizens in European democracies. These recommendations will also be translated into a series of live, pan-European debates on direct democracy and shared with EU decision-makers in the lead up to the 2019 European elections.

Direct democracy and citizens' participation are increasingly significant to re-establish the relationship and trust between citizens and decision-makers. Across the world as well as in Europe, there are examples of citizens being involved in making decisions on budgets, urban planning, healthcare, standardisation and even constitution.

It is time to leave your mark and be a change-maker. Register to join by clicking here. We look forward to hearing from you!

The creative, highly committed and passionate European Young Leaders Class of 2018 include:
John Collison, President & Co-Founder of Stripe / Brune Poirson, French Secretary of State for Ecological and Inclusive Transition / Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society / Alexandra Dariescu, award-winning pianist / Nasima Razmyar, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki / Selina Juul, Founder and Chairman of the Stop Wasting Food movement / Diane Binder, Member of the French Presidential Council on Africa / Pavla Holcova, founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism.

Learn more about the new class

Introductory remarks by
Stefania Karponczay, Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Hungary
Sammy Mahdy, Chairman of the youth wing of the Flemish CD&V party, Belgium

Moderated by
Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Strategy at Friends of Europe

Dharmendra Kanani
Director of Strategy
Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was Director of Policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England Director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Kanani has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and was advisor for numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.  
Stefánia Kapronczay
Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Stefánia is a human rights activist working in the context of illiberal democracies. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the leading human rights NGO in Hungary that aims to increase awareness of fundamental human rights and that gives Hungarians the ability to enforce these rights when they are abused, especially by those in position of public power. Before the large-scale demonstrations in Budapest in 2017, HCLU was named as one of the three key civil organisations that need to be restricted in Hungary by the ruling FIDESZ party. Stefánia also co-chairs the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations. Lawyer by training, she has particular expertise on the reproductive rights of people with disabilities and is a passionate defender of the rights of vulnerable groups. 
Sammy Mahdi
Chairman of the youth wing of the Flemish CD&V party
Sammy, the son of an Iraqi political refugee and a Belgian mother, has become the first ever Chairman from Brussels to lead the Flemish ‘Jong CD&V’ party. He has previously served as a parliamentary assistant and writes a regular column for the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. Passionate about issues related to integration and equality, Sammy is viewed as a bridge builder between Belgium’s Muslim and non-Muslim populations.
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Event starts
09 March