Europe’s generation R - regeneration, recovery, resilience

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Regeneration has undoubtedly been one of the buzzwords of 2021. Post-COVID Europe will be characterised by regeneration, recovery and resilience. It is not only about recovering from the crisis, but regenerating and building back fairer.

Now more than ever, we need a new social contract fit for the 21st century. This has been an overarching goal at Friends of Europe since 2018. Through a whole economy, whole society approach that goes beyond economic prosperity, we want to foster a regeneration that works for everyone, so that we can achieve a greener, digital and social economy.

The European Young Leaders programme has been instrumental in connecting young talent throughout Europe, with the aim of encouraging new generations to foster a regeneration of a different kind of leadership, beyond borders.

In September 2021, for the first time since the pandemic hit, Friends of Europe is delighted to invite the European Young Leaders class for an in-person three-day seminar in the city of Brussels.

This European Young Leaders seminar will be unique in many ways. The first in-person seminar since the beginning of the pandemic promises to be rich in events and fruitful discussions. A series of thematic sessions on salient topics – from multilateralism, constructive politics and the climate and digital transformations, to feminism and the world of arts and culture – will be discussed, reflecting the work of Friends of Europe for the years ahead. We are looking forward to finally meeting you in Brussels: let the 2021 European Young Leaders autumn seminar begin.



Welcome Lunch
Scene setting: Introduction to the seminar
Plenary: Looking at the stars Expand Plenary: Looking at the stars

Engaging the private sector to reach further

Undergoing massive transformation and rapid industrialisation, space is an increasing priority for the European Union and the private sector across Europe. There is a real opportunity to use space exploration and space data to improve the quality of life for all EU citizens and to establish the EU as a strategic leader in the field. Europe should seize this opportunity to set the rules of governance in accordance with its values.

We need to consider how to strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and private sector contributions to the field, while making sure that governance is driven by a political mandate. There is a need to develop capacity and commercial capabilities within the EU, and ring-fenced funding for SMEs and newer organisations could not only stimulate innovation and push European space exploration ahead, but also increase the benefits of the space programme for members of the public. A strong political mandate will ensure that projects maintain momentum that are not controlled by industry and for industry, but for European residents instead.


Günther Hasinger

European Space Agency’s Director of Science focusing on European space policy reflecting European values

Coffee break
Getting to know each other
Plenary: Matching words to action Expand Plenary: Matching words to action

Delivering on a just and inclusive digital and climate transformation

National recovery plans speak of coherence of purpose amongst member states to do business in a new way. Will these plans guarantee a recovery that is just and inclusive, implementing a digital and climate transition right for their economies or are they a further evidence of the gap between rhetoric and reality, as has often been the case? Will recovery plans represent an opportunity missed or an opportunity created to redefine Europe’s values for the 21st century? How will member states reconcile the fatigue of citizens that simply want their leaders to restore normalcy – a job, a home, a good education and security – with the need for transformation in how we lead our lives?


Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Senior Associate CISL & E3G, Member Club of Rome

Gert Jan Koopman

European Commission Director-General for Budget

Plenary: Balancing values and relationships Expand Plenary: Balancing values and relationships

Has multilateralism worked in favour of fairness or is it about balancing national budgeting?

A key signatory of numerous global agreements and the world’s largest trading block, Europe promotes multilateralism, liberal democracy, fair and just trade, economic development, peace and security. Can it balance its role as a value setter and as a market maker for economic growth? Is the range of new trading regulations and standards a sign of a ‘protecting Europe first’ mentality? In its external relations, how does Europe ensure that it communicates mutuality, shared and common interests and a global perspective rather than continental self-interest? This session will consider various examples, including the new global tax framework, as well as Europe’s approach to vaccine sovereignty.


Pascal Lamy

President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute and Friends of Europe Trustee

Evening programme
Continue to Day 2
Plenary: Values and constructive politics Expand Plenary: Values and constructive politics

Liberal democracies are facing dilemmas of legitimacy, with weakening centre-left and centre-right parties. Extreme partisanship has led to heightened gridlock and citizen disenchantment with overall democratic capabilities, spurring calls for change. At the heart of the crisis facing political leaders is the growing lack of trust in elected representatives and their ability to tackle current challenges. In order to re-establish trust in our democratic institutions, from the free press to the parliaments and governments of representative democracies, there is a need to promote a democratic dialogue and political processes that are more responsive to people’s needs and expectations of involvement and representation.

Exploring the need for constructive dialogue, we will look at the various challenges faced by the media, parliamentarians and political parties and how they can work differently to inspire trust and accountability.


Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Ulrik Haagerup

Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute

Coffee break
Plenary: Re-inventing cities from a feminist perspective Expand Plenary: Re-inventing cities from a feminist perspective

How do we mainstream a gender-aware and inclusive approach to the city?

Despite being vibrantly diverse ecosystems, our cities are designed by men and for men. The bias that limits urban design extends to all aspects of society. This is partly due to the lack of diverse and representative leadership at the top, the exclusion of certain groups and minorities from decision-making, and the reinforcement of outdated norms regarding the makeup of a community. This is a narrative of the last century. How do we empower a different narrative of inclusion, diversity and human rights? Can cities drive the change by rethinking and redesigning public spaces?

Friends of Europe launched on May 9th its “Capital of Europe, Women of Europe” project. Inspired by American writer Rebecca Solnit and geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s City of Women project in New York, it involves taking the Brussels metro map as a creative frame to tell a new story of Europe, celebrating women who have helped shaped our continent.


Jos Boys

Programme Leader of the MSc Learning Environments at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment UCL and Co-Director of The DisOrdinary Architecture Project

Parallel sessions Expand Parallel sessions

The arts can heal, but can we heal the arts? – Working group on arts and culture

Creatives and artists around the world have unleashed their creativity and passion during lockdowns; arts and culture regenerated spirits during the pandemic. As we gradually return to semi-normalcy, how do we regenerate these sectors to be fit for the new economies we seek to build for the future? Mental health will be a key determinant of how we recover, so arts and culture have the potential to be as important to recovery strategies as creating jobs, improving services and building better economies. Has arts and culture made the business case for its role in recovery?


Mary Fitzgerald

Journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Jan Goossens

Artistic director of the Festival de Marseille and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Makiko Hirata

Pianist and consultant at the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital


Breaking the mould – Working group on constructive politics

“Breaking the mould” focuses on diagnosing the problem of the current political moment. In this smaller session, an in-depth discussion and a series of exercises will help participants, including members of parliaments and the media, adopt a systems approach to the current political ecology and work out concrete and realistic diagnosis of the current processes.

This session, led by Kirsten Brosbøl, Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister of the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40), will rely on European Young Leaders’ personal experience to sketch a way forward in constructive politics


Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Ulrik Haagerup

Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute

Coffee break
Plenary: Connecting Europe better Expand Plenary: Connecting Europe better

Railways for a fairer and greener future

Faced with the challenge of climate change, travel in Europe in the future is going to have to be more carbon neutral. Green air travel is a long way off, and while electric vehicles continue to improve and become more prevalent, cars are not viable for most long-distance trips and congestion remains a problem. As 2021 marks the European Year of Rail, Europe must drive the market share of railways, making trains the go-to for the long-distance travel across the continent. Can the idea of sustainable train travel be both a solution to our carbon reductions needs as well as European connectivity, whilst making sure that those who can’t afford mobility can experience the joy of being connected across Europe?


Jon Worth

Blogger and independent consultant and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

What’s on your mind
Evening programme
Continue to Day 3
Conversation over breakfast: Peer-learning roundtables Expand Conversation over breakfast: Peer-learning roundtables

Over breakfast, two rounds of five 30-minute short conversations with European Young Leaders will run in parallel on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this resourceful network.

Wrap up and next steps
Lunch and farewell
Optional activities


Dharmendra Kanani
Dharmendra Kanani

Director, Asia, Peace, Security & Defense, Digital & Chief spokesperson

Show more information on Dharmendra Kanani

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. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.



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