Warsaw Seminar

08 March 2018 - 12:00 - 10 March 2018 - 14:15
Caroline de Gruyter, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Ronan Murphy, Ulrike Sapiro, Francesca Spidalieri, Rashid Sumaila, Marian Turski

Values key in fight against populism

Young leaders from across Europe gathered Thursday in Warsaw for debates that focused on the need to defend democratic values from the threat posed by a rising tide of populism.

“The unthinkable is happening… we have to defend democracy within the European Union,” warned Marcin Walecki, Head of the Democratisation Department at the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. 

Walecki was among several speakers who urged greater EU support for civil society organisations under unprecedented pressure in nations such as Hungary and Poland.

Calls for a values-based response to populism were a key theme on the opening day of the first 2018 European Young Leaders seminar. The Friends of Europe EYL40 programme brings together pace-setters in a wide range of fields ‒ from politics and the media, to business, science and the arts.

Under the theme “Make-or-Break Europe” the young leaders looked at the roots of the populist revival and the need to fight back through a reaffirmation of democratic values. 

“There is a fight over values… that’s the battle we are in,” said Franziska Brantner, a Member of the German Parliament and a European Young Leader. “If we don’t stand up and fight for those values we will end up with horror again.”

The opening of the three-day seminar coincided with International Women’s Day and 
women’s rights were highlighted as an integral part of the universal values that Europe needs to defend.

Young leaders shared highly personal stories of the women who most inspired them. They ranged from participants’ mothers, daughters, grandmothers and teachers, to superstar soprano Maria Callas and anonymous Polish anti-fascist demonstrators.

Led by Friends of Europe, each year the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings together talented, established leaders, aged 40 and under, who have made their mark in a wide range of fields such as politics, science, business, media, NGOs, the arts and civil society.  You can find more information about the programme in the EYL40 overview. The programme was originally conceived with EuropaNova.

IMAGE CREDIT: TTstudio/Bigstock


Image (media)
What do a microbiologist, an entrepreneur, a journalist and a Member of Parliament have in common? They are all European Young Leaders who are engaged in making Europe a global champion for a better world.

Brussels is not Europe, and the discussions that take place here are far from representative of the issues that concern many of Europe’s citizens. Governments across the world are struggling with this disconnect as citizens show an increasing lack of trust in politics and politicians. 


The European Young Leaders 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 and their expectations for the future of the Union, in order to shape its governance for the coming years.

In this “Make-or-Break” year, it is important that Europeans reflect on shared values and norms, and whether there are still enough of these to unite Europeans around a common identity. In the 20th century, much of what were considered to be European values were those that allowed nation states to collaborate in the postwar decades, but with fewer and fewer veterans remaining to remind us of the alternative to a strong and peaceful EU, and the World Wars receding further into the history books, what is the nature of the European identity in the 21st century?

At the same time, common identity and community are most strongly felt at a local level, and city councils are the first port of call for citizens who seek change in their day-to-day environments, whether that be to increase the local supply of jobs and housing; to manage social cohesion and the integration of migrants; or to create a thriving business hub capable of sustaining the local economy. It is city councils who are at the front line of engagement with European citizens, and it is from cities, such as Warsaw, that we see the greatest advocacy for creating inclusive, open societies, and a thriving European single market.

The overarching “Make-or-Break” theme has two main components which will be further reflected throughout the European Young Leaders’ programme during this important year. The first of these is the enabling and embedding of resilience in the people, policies and processes of the European project. The second concerns the bridging of the gap between citizens and states, which has widened in recent years due to an increasing lack of trust and confidence in governments and the EU institutions. To achieve this, there is a clear need to re-position citizens at the heart of Europe, and encourage them to more directly contribute to shaping Europe.

The Warsaw seminar is the first of a series of seminars which form the foundation of the 2018 edition of the European Young Leaders’ programme, and its themes have been chosen to reflect the core work of Friends of Europe for this year and into the future. Many of the ideas generated in this seminar will feed into the 2018 workstream of our Citizens Europe programme and will also provide the basis for a series of wider follow-up debates via our online platform Debating Europe and its 3.1-million-strong community of citizens.


08 March
12.00 - 13.45

2018 Class welcome lunch - A moment to welcome the 2018 class of European Young Leaders to their first seminar and an opportunity for them to meet with their peers

13.45 - 14.00

Welcome and introduction to the seminar

Geert  Cami, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Friends of Europe
Michal Olszewski, EYL40 Alumnus & Deputy-Mayor of the City of Warsaw

14.00 - 14.15


From Communism to Populism - How did we get here?

Authoritarians in Europe and the world are on the rise, and electorates are seduced by extremes that could bring down liberal democracy.To fight back, mainstream politicians need to grasp the causes of popular discontent and rebuild democracy’s moral foundations. 

Marcin Walecki, Head of the Democratization Department at the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights  (OSCE/ODIHR)

14.15 - 15.30



Peer-to-Peer Exchange

What makes a good leader? In this session, Young Leaders will be divided into groups of 8-10 to exchange experiences and insight from their leadership journeys. Each group will present a summary of their discussion to the wider group in five minutes.

Led by: 
Agnija Seiko, choreographer and European Young Leader 2017

15.30 - 16.00

Coffee Break

16.00 - 18.00



What defines European values in the 21st Century?

Across the continent, populists on both sides of the political spectrum are rising;  economic inequality is increasing; the advent of digital technologies is speeding up the rate of change in our societies; even the nature of privacy and social interaction has been transformed in the early part of the 21st century. This rapid pace of change has created an atmosphere of uncertainty, for good or ill, facilitating social division and increased competition to establish a dominant narrative which is capable of directing the remodelling of European values, as has is being illustrated in Britain, Poland, and Hungary.

Has Europe lost the moral high-ground? What now defines European identity and values? In which areas should we seek to protect traditional European characteristics, and which are in need of a 21st century overhaul?

Introductory remarks by:
Caroline de Gruyter, Author and European Affairs Correspondent for leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad
Franziska Brantner, Spokeswoman on European Policy at the Bundestag; European Young Leader Alumna and Friends of Europe Trustee

20.00 - 22.00

High-level Dinner: Women in Leadership

On the occasion of International Women’s Day and the 100 anniversary of the Suffragettes’ movement, this dinner will celebrate the legacy of women who have left an indelible mark on the progress of women.

European Young Leader contribution by:
Alexandra Dariescu, Award-winning pianist
Dionysis Grammenos, Award-winning conductor & clarinetist, Founder of the Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra
Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak , Social activist and member of the Razem party
Jesse Klaver, Leader of the Dutch Green Party ‘Groenlinks’



09 March
09.30 - 11.30



How cities are leading the way forward on European cooperation

By acting at the local level to solve economic, social, and environmental issues, cities can bypass national political discord to create partnerships full of opportunities that accelerate action on issues affecting the daily lives of citizens across Europe. Cities are also teaming up, creating coalitions and sharing knowledge and innovative solutions to the greatest challenges facing Europeans. From climate change to migration, these strategic partnerships are rooted in substantial projects and initiatives that reflect cities’ ambitions, priorities and interests, giving them an increasingly prominent role in multilateral cooperation at the European level. 
Where can cities have the greatest impact in bridging the gap between the EU and its citizens? Can European solidarity be reinvigorated at a city level? Does inter-city cooperation offer a more effective alternative to regional and international cooperation?

Introductory remarks by:
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor, City of Warsaw
Nasima Razmyar, Deputy-Mayor, City of Helsinki and European Young Leader 2018

11.30 - 12.00

Coffee break

12.00 - 13.00



Short conversations with Young Leaders on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this useful network. 

12.00 - 12.30

1 - Produced but never eaten – how to tackle food waste  
Selina Juul,
Founder of the Stop Wasting Food Movement, and European Young Leader 2018 
2 - Getting to the top - navigating challenges to equality and diversity in the navy
Helena Linder-Jess,
Commanding officer in the German navy and European Young Leader 2018 
3 - Making sense of fake news 
Clémentine Forissier,  
Editor-in-Chief of Contexte and European Young Leader Alumna 
4- The Italian election – why it matters for Europe 
Lia Quartapelle,  
PD leader for the Foreign Affairs and Community Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies

12.30 - 13.00

1 - Activating 21st century skills -  enabling social inclusion through volunteering 
Kamilla Sultanova, Chair of Global Dignity Finland, and European Young Leader Alumna
2 - The “Startup Stack”- what European start-ups need to succeed
John Collison, Co-Founder & President of Stripe, and European Young Leader 
3 - Finding a new star – what space has to offer this century 
Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Astrophysicist and European Young Leader 2018
4 - The Rebound Effect— a clean energy conundrum 
Lukasz Dziekonski, Head of the Central and Eastern Europe Office, Marguerite Fund 2020 for Energy and European Young Leader Alumnus

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.45



A concern for European citizens and companies?

Cyberterrorism is fast-becoming one of the main concerns of European citizens. The shift from small-scale cyber-attacks to large-scale attacks on civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, power plants and financial services has heightened the public awareness of the vulnerability of data systems, leading to increased concern about the collection and handling of personal data, and the lack of transparency and accountability of companies and governments in the cybersphere. With much of its digital and technological infrastructure in the hands of private companies, how can Europe get ahead in ensuring that public data and resources are protected from cyber-attacks? Which areas of cyber-security should fall under the mandate of national and EU institutions, and which are the responsibility of individual citizens? 

Introductory remarks by:
Francesca Spidalieri, Senior Fellow for Cyber Leadership, Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy 
Ronan Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of Smarttech247

Moderated by:
Katarzyna Pisarska, Founder of the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, Poland


The plastics paradox: a dilemma for consumers

The velocity of the consumption of plastic as a cheap, disposable commodity has been exacerbated by the rise of consumer-facing digital platforms which facilitate high-speed ‘click-to-buy’ purchases with round-the-clock delivery. In parallel, citizens and nation states are convinced of the need to tackle environmental damage caused and climate change linked to human activity. Supermarkets and small retail outlets are pressured to reduce and recycle  plastic waste whilst simultaneously feeding mass consumption. Meanwhile, oceans have become dumping grounds for all manner of plastic waste, which has now become such a blight on ecosystems that plastics are now found in the deepest and furthest reaches of the marine environment. 

Introductory remarks by:
Rashid Sumaila, Professor & Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Colombia and recipient of the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science 
Ulrike Sapiro, Director for Sustainability EMEA, The Coca-Cola Company

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

15.45 - 16.45

Coffee Break

16.45 - 18.15


Increasingly an antidote to the breakdown of relationship and trust between citizens and governments is to trial different forms of citizens’ participation, engagement and direct democracy. Across the world and in Europe there are examples where citizens are being engaged in co-deciding budgets, urban planning, healthcare standards and even a constitution. While it’s still early to tell it appears that this can have a revitalising effect on the relationship and provide greater confidence and trust among citizens about how they are governed but more importantly to have a stake in how their livelihoods develop and to play a part in improving how this takes place.

Key questions:
1/ Do you think your vote matters?
2/ Do you believe your political representatives will follow through their promises?
3/ Would you want to be involved in decision making at local, national and European level?

Based on these questions, the session will aim to identify 3 key recommendations for ways to improve the direct participation of citizens in European democracies based on the input of local Warsaw citizens, the European Young leaders and the voices and views of citizens across Europe through their engagement on the Debating Europe platform. 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.

European Young Leader contributions by:
Stefania Kapronczay, Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and European Young Leader 2018
Sammy Mahdi, Chairman of the youth Wing of the Flemish CD&V party and European Young Leader 2018

This session is organised in partnership with:
Office of the Mayor of the City of Warsaw, Office of the Polish Ombudsman, Casimir Pulaski Foundation


10 March
10.00 - 11.00



Short conversations with Young Leaders on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this useful network. 

10.00 - 10.30

1 - One year on—are women changing the Republican party?
Meghan Milloy, Co-Founder, Republican Women for Progress, and North American Young Leader Alumna
2 - Voice building for the unheard by and for a new generation – fighting political apathy and changing a consensus  
Nassira El Moaddem, Editor of the Bondy Blog 
3 - Could going off-grid help solve our housing problems?
Tomas Zacek, CEO of Ecocapsule and 2018 European Young Leader
4 - AI for the greater good – how machine learning can have a positive social impact 
Rebeca Minguela, Co-Founder of Clarity AI 

10.30 - 11.00

1 - Designing urban places in China - money, culture and history
Beatrice Leanza, Creative Director & Cofounder of B/Side Design & The Global School
2 - How a simple sticker can reduce pollution
Rob Shirkey, Founder and Executive Director of Our Horizon
3 - Time for an alternative approach to banking 
Max von Bismarck, Chief Business Officer & Managing Director, Deposit Solutions

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 - 12.30


Reflecting on the past to protect Europe’s future

Marian Turski is a Polish-Jewish historian and journalist. Having survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and two death marches in 1945, Turski has become an important personality of the Jewish community in Poland and for the memory of the Holocaust. Turski and his family were deported to the Auschwitz killing center in 1944, where his father and most likely his brother were murdered upon arrival. He was later transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and was liberated at Theresienstadt after surviving a death march from Buchenwald. Since then he has had a distinguished career as a journalist, heading the historical section of the Polityka weekly since 1958 and has been involved in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews Project since its beginning.  

12.30 - 13.15

Closing remarks and what's next

13.15 - 14.15


Caroline de Gruyter
Author and EU Correspondent at NRC Handelsblad
Caroline de Gruyter is a well-known European affairs correspondent for the leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, currently based in Oslo. She is a regular commentator on the rise of populism, the use of the Internet in counter anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic messages on what the EU and its member states can do to create a greater sense of unity. An author of several books on Europe, she has been awarded three prestigious Dutch prizes and the Prix du Mérite Européen for political reporting of exceptional quality.
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
Mayor of Warsaw
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is a Polish lawyer, Professor of Jurisprudence and politician who serves as Mayor of Warsaw since 2006, the first female politician to hold this position. Before becoming Mayor of Warsaw, she was the Chairperson of the National Bank of Poland, the central bank of Poland and, later on, Vice-President of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Ronan Murphy
Founder and Chief Executive of Smarttech247
Ronan Murphy is founder and Chief Executive of Smarttech247, a leading international Cyber Security Operations Centre service provider. From small businesses to large enterprises, they offer original solutions to security challenges, ensuring peace of mind and business continuity to clients. Murphy has played a pivotal role Smarttech247’s innovative approach to security solutions, working daily with an elite team of engineers, support teams and sales executives who are building Smarttech247 into a global leader in managed security services. They were the first European facility to implement IBM Watson for cybersecurity purposes, using AI to track and improve response times for cyber breaches. The company now delivers managed security to some of the world’s leading companies and governments, operating from 3 international locations. 
Ulrike Sapiro
Director Sustainability & Stakeholders - Europe, Middle East & Africa, The Coca-Cola Company
Ulrike Sapiro is Director for Sustainability in Europe and responsible for Sustainability & Stakeholders in the Coca-Cola Public Policy Center for Europe, Middle East & Africa.  In her role, Ulrike leads strategy, policy, programs and stakeholder engagement across the Company’s strategic priorities, including packaging and  circular economy, water, sustainable agriculture and the system’s contribution to society, notably women and youth empowerment. Outside of her work at Coca-Cola, Ulrike is the President of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Program (SAI), Chair on the European Soft Drink Association, and an active member in the European Water Partnership.
Francesca Spidalieri
Senior Fellow for Cyber Leadership at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy
In addition to her academic expertise in cyber leadership development, national cyber resilience and risk management, Francesca Spidalieri also holds the post of Co-Principal Investigator for the Cyber Readiness Index project at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies where she has worked to develop a practical blueprint for countries to understand and address their cyber vulnerabilities. Spidalieri is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Ponemon Institute, and regularly lectures on cyber-related issues across the United States.
Rashid Sumaila
Professor & Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Colombia and recipient of the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science
Dr. Rashid Sumaila is Professor and Director, Fisheries Economics Research Unit & the OceanCanada Partnership at the University of British Columbia. He specializes in bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, illegal fishing, climate change and oil spills. Sumaila has published extensively, and is winner of various honours and awards, including the 2017 Volvo Environmental Prize, 2017 Benchley Oceans Award in Science, and the 2016 UBC Killam Research Prize. Sumaila’s research has generated a great deal of interest, and has been cited by The Economist and The Boston Globe, among others.
Marian Turski
Deputy Chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland
Marian Turski is a Polish-Jewish historian and journalist. He has headed the historical section of the Polityka weekly since 1958 and has been involved in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews project since its beginning. Having survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and two death marches in 1945, Turski has become an important personality of the Jewish community in Poland and for the memory of the Holocaust. As such, he is also a member of the Central Board of the Association of Jewish Combatants and Victims of the Second World War and Deputy Chairman of the International Auschwitz Committee.

With the support of

John S Latsis Foundation Fondazione Cariplo eucom
Registration to this seminar is by invitation only.
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