Is Europe Alice in Wonderland?

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Like Alice, Europe needs to determine now whether its current interpretations are accurate or distorted, and whether these perceptions can guide the continent into 2030 and beyond. Is Europe lost in Wonderland? Do we know which way is up? Is the EU too big or too small? Does it look forward to the future or backwards? Does it understand itself?

The Union is at a time where it reflects on its readiness to either enlarge further – for example, Western Balkans, Ukraine and so on – or to shrink in line with its founding values. It also wants to be a super power in digital, space, defence and trade, while at the same time, it is not ready to accept looking at its colonial past that still defines some of its international relationships. Can Europe face its fears and find its way out of the disorienting Wonderland?

In tackling this, we will explore how to make sense of the impact of the crisis of livelihoods that we are living through and what this means for our theories of economic and social change. Climate action and digitalisation can be forces for good. How do we harness them and use the power of storytelling to seed hope rather than anxiety and inaction? In a world that is facing increasing challenges of division, polarisation and misinformation, are there mechanisms that we can use to bridge those divides and build agreement? Finally, good governance, public accountability, economic models and the interaction between the state, tax payers, citizens and the private sector will all need to be thought through and recalibrated for a Renewed Social Contract for Europe.

One year after the invasion of Ukraine, where does Europe stand and what can be said of European democracy? As internal and external factors and actors continue to threaten our democratic model, this seminar will bring together the EYL40 Class of 2023, alumni of the network, experts and local communities a year ahead of the European elections to address the above questions.



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