State of Europe 2019: Vision Innovation for Europe

Next event

Citizens' Europe
Get in touch
State of Europe 2019


This high-level event, now in its 16th edition, annually gathers 200+ influential figures from more than 40 countries to brainstorm on the future of Europe.

As a forum for developing the exchange of ideas into recipes for action, it is second to none. We involve sitting and former (prime) ministers, CEOs, NGO leaders, European Commissioners, members of Parliaments, influencers, top journalists and European Young Leaders, in an interactive, inclusive and fast-paced brainstorm – a new way of working to generate new ideas for a new era.

Demographics, the gap in social mobility, technological capacity, industrial regeneration, trade relations – are undoubtedly the key influencers of Europe’s future. But the underpinning driver of its success will be bridging the current trust deficit between citizens and their national and regional representatives.

The ‘challenge opportunity’ for Europe in the next ten years is to rewire its system for systemic innovation. This requires a new social contract that resets the relationship between and among the public, private and civil society sectors.

The time has passed for responding in a 20th century manner to 21st century challenges. Europe needs to take a bold and holistic approach across policies and that means leadership of a different nature at all levels – one that seeks to make innovation, Europe’s comparative advantage.

While the forces affecting societies in this early part of the century resemble many of those experienced in the early part of the last century, the ‘hardware’ available to us is fundamentally revolutionized.

This will be the only way to navigate in a world of disruption, marked by America First, a forthright China, a rising India and a transforming Africa. The new EU political cycle is an opportunity that can be leveraged to make the needed changes.

Discussions at State of Europe this year will be inspired by our ‘Vision for Europe’ report which is part of our #EuropeMatters flagship project, bringing together business leaders, policymakers, civil society representatives and citizens to co-design a Europe that still matters in 2030.

Inconvenient truths and big questions to be addressed for Europe to become a global innovation lab:

  • The trust deficit – reinvigorating democracy through citizens’ participation?
  • Are you in or out – making the EU political project work?
  • Rich and poor – narrowing the gap?
  • Hot or cold – taking a whole systems approach to climate?
  • No jobs or more jobs – rejuvenating Europe’s industrial base?
  • Dependent or interconnected – reappraising Europe’s foreign policy role?
  • Men and women – getting better and different political leadership?
  • Old and young – bridging differences and divides?
  • Direct or indirect – crafting a new and fairer taxation model?

Current registered discussants include



Early bird briefings: How are we changing Europe Expand Early bird briefings: How are we changing Europe

This set of parallel early-bird briefings, held by experts in their respective fields, will feature short and inspiring conversations to showcase Europe as an innovation hub in health, industry, education, technology among others.

Opening Session: Vision innovation for Europe Expand Opening Session: Vision innovation for Europe

Scene setting

The trust deficit – Reinvigorating democracy through citizens’ participation?

The turnout in the European Parliament elections provides an opportunity to build on an engaged citizenry. The message to policy-makers and members states is strong, citizens want to have a say on how Europe is run and their involvement on policy decisions and the improvement of transparency. Can Europe develop a different model based on power-sharing and learn from local innovation which is paving a new way to listen to citizens while increasing transparency and accountability?

Vision Innovation for Europe

Europe and its new leadership need to adopt an innovation mindset and find a formula to balance conflicting interests. To list a few: competitiveness in a global economy vs. social equality at home; the free flow of capital, goods, and ideas vs. the preservation of intellectual property and entrepreneurial spirit; security vs. individual rights, liberties and self-determination; the free movement of people, migration, and political asylum vs. the preservation of traditions, cultural identity and the ability to integrate.

How can innovation become Europe’s comparative advantage in policy making? What are the conditions, trade-off and deal-breakers to enable politics, the private sector and civil society to create a culture of trust and make Europe the new global innovation hub of the future?

Coffee break
Men and women? Getting better and different leadership Expand Men and women? Getting better and different leadership

Any football fan will tell you: you can’t win a match with 11 left footed strikers. And yet, that’s exactly who we have on the EU’s pitch today. It’s time to get women off the bench and into the game. Or else, we’re destined to lose. Big time. One of the first places to start is with our leadership. How can we cooperate and build partnerships to make sure that power, in all areas, is distributed equally among men and women?

Idea sharing: Rich and poor? Narrowing the gap through a fairer taxation model Expand Idea sharing: Rich and poor? Narrowing the gap through a fairer taxation model

The age and generational gap will only get bigger. By 2060 those aged 65 and over will be 152 million. As well as impossibly high fiscal costs, demographic change condemns under-35 to being outvoted for the foreseeable future. Both groups are affecting Europe and what they want from society. How can we ensure we mitigate the demographic impact which is going to fundamentally change Europe in the years to come?

Sessions I: Hot or cold? Taking a whole systems approach to climate Expand Sessions I: Hot or cold? Taking a whole systems approach to climate

Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will require a different approach, one that has the power to align investment, policy and regulation to streamline the fight against climate change across all sectors. System change is both the challenge and the opportunity. Technology will be a key strategic tool to ensure that targets are met whilst driving a social and just transition.Can institutional, public, private, and citizen-driven leadership strengthen innovation that helps us win the argument for carbon neutrality on all fronts? Can Europe reconcile the necessary with the desirable to face our ecological ultimatum?

Session II: Rich and poor? Narrowing the gap through a fairer taxation model Expand Session II: Rich and poor? Narrowing the gap through a fairer taxation model

Growing inequalities between and within EU member states pose a serious threat to the cohesion of Europe. From the North to the South, to the East and West, social mobility is decreasing. There is a mass of people who are not benefitting from our transforming technologically driven economies. Is tax an underutilised tool to balance the score card between rich and poor? How can we transform the system and re-set the economic and social frameworks for a fairer taxation model?

Sessions III: Dependent or interconnected? Reappraising Europe’s foreign policy and security role Expand Sessions III: Dependent or interconnected? Reappraising Europe’s foreign policy and security role

Rapid global and domestic changes are forcing Europe to reassess its relations with old and new global powers – and redefine its own international role. EU moves to forge a stronger security identity, clinch new trade and investment accords and take the lead in salvaging the Iran nuclear deal, reforming the World Trade Organisation and maintaining momentum on Climate Change are encouraging signs. It’s now time to become bolder, more skilful and more innovative. The EU’s focus should shift from out-dated “hub and spoke” agreements to innovative deals which encourage a real two-way exchange of knowledge, finance and people to tackle shared challenges.

What should be the key elements of a new European global strategy? In a world marked by zero-sum games, can the EU invest in cooperative leadership for better global governance?

Session IV: No jobs or more jobs? Rejuvenating Europe's industrial base Expand Session IV: No jobs or more jobs? Rejuvenating Europe's industrial base

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and data are transforming capital flows, value chains, industrial bases, consumer behaviour and ultimately the jobs market. How Europe transitions to a fully-fledged digital society while preserving its manufacturing and industrial power will depend on a drastic rethink of its relationship with its industrial base. How we get there requires a new and innovative digital global strategy for industrial policy with a European intent. How can we bring leaders closer to craft an innovation based industrial strategy?

Coffee break
Conclusion: Are you in or out? Making the EU political project work Expand Conclusion: Are you in or out? Making the EU political project work

Europe is at a crossroads. As the incoming leadership is set to take its place, the political landscape between those that want to be part of strong and united Europe of values and those who see the EU as an economic transactor – has fragmented institutions, member states and citizens between two camps. As we move ahead, member states must ask themselves what do they want out of the political project and are they willing to make it work? How will the new EU leadership learn from the legacy of the last mandate to manage the social, economic and political divides that have hampered unity?


the debate on


view all insights

Next Event

view all events


Track title


Stop playback
Video title



We use cookies to improve your online experience.
For more information, visit our privacy policy