State of Europe – the festival of politics and ideas: a new Renaissance

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State of Europe – the festival of politics and ideas: a new Renaissance

Summary

Europe needs nothing short of a new Renaissance as it emerges from the trauma of COVID-19. It is essential to move ahead fast with the green-digital transition to build a sustainable, fair and resilient economy. Europe needs a stronger, more cohesive Union to address economic, environmental, social and technological challenges and forge global partnerships. It must construct a new social contract to redefine the role of governments, business and citizens, built on trust, transparency and inclusion.

These were among the conclusions of ‘State of Europe: a new Renaissance’, the 18th edition of Friends of Europe’s flagship annual event which gathers top-level representatives from government, civil society, business and academia to discuss the most pressing issues of the day.

The debate focused on the shape of the new Europe that will emerge from the pandemic as the European Union mobilises its €750bn NextGenerationEU fund in an effort to make the continent greener, more digitally competitive and more socially cohesive.

“This recovery is different from any other recovery we’ve been facing because it has to be green and sustainable,” said Philippe Donnet, Group Chief Executive Officer of Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. “There will be no recovery if it’s not sustainable. To achieve that, all of us need to be united, there will be no sustainable recovery without cooperation at all levels.”

Laura Cozzi, Chief Energy Modeller at the International Energy Agency (IEA), had a message for world leaders gathering for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) starting 31 October in Glasgow. She said all currently scheduled efforts to fight global warming would still lead to an average increase in global temperatures of 2.1 degrees Celsius, instead of the 1.5 degrees Celsius that scientists estimate as the maximum allowable to maintain a liveable planet.

However, she still did see some positive signs. “For the first time in human history, we are expecting economic growth to go up and emissions to go down,” Cozzi said. “From now on, the story of the world is going to be growth and decarbonisation go hand in hand.”

The event saw the launch of ‘Connected Europe: A digital brand for a just transition’ a report showing how the continent can achieve a successful, green and resilient digital transformation. The report is the result of a year-long pan-European study led by Friends of Europe in partnership with Vodafone, which brought a cross-sectional assessment of today’s actions and investments in the drive for digitalisation.

It called on policymakers, industry and society to work together to build an effective European digital ecosystem, drive a digital-for-green transition, and bridge social and geographical divides to ensure nobody is left behind.

While the unprecedented European funding plans are an important step forward, the green digital transition needs to mobilise more public-private partnership and greater citizens’ engagement. It’s crucial the pandemic-driven momentum behind the switch to digital is maintained.

“Looking at both governments and the private sector, what we’ve seen in 10 months of COVID is worth almost 10 years of digitalisation efforts before,” said Solveigh Hieronimus, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company and Co-leader of the McKinsey Center for Government (MCG). “How do you actually, structurally harness that? … What do we learn? What’s actually the muscle being built when it comes to digitisation?”

Looking at the opportunities of the new Renaissance, speakers highlighted the importance of radically recomposing the ecology of local, national and European governance; and of creating new employment and education opportunities. They called for a smart investment rethink and the adoption of a prevention-based approach to health policy.

Jean-Luc Lemercier, Corporate Vice-President at Edwards Lifesciences, highlighted the need for urgent political engagement beyond COVID-19. “When it comes to cardiovascular diseases, the number 1 killer in Europe, the most important element is detection – the earlier the better. We have the knowledge, but we need the money and the commitment. We need action.”

Space is as crucial to grasping the new economic opportunities. “If you are not a space superpower, you cannot be a world superpower” said Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA). EU policymakers were urged to invest more and better or risk being left behind by China, the United States and other competitors in the revived race to space.

Despite all the opportunities arising from the post-pandemic recovery, participants also looked to the risks. They range from inflation and overheating as economies accelerate, to a return to political complacency stemming from a sense of returning normality, or threats to European unity from politicians eager to grab EU money but unwilling to adhere to its core values.

Illustrating the diversity of perspectives brought into this year State of Europe brainstorm, discussants included astronaut Luca Parmitano, whose presentation highlighted the impact of environmental disasters viewed from space; Francesca Cavallo, bestselling author of ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’ and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40), who stressed the need for new narratives to underpin sustainable change; and Zarifa Ghafari, Afghan activist and former mayor of Maidan Shahr, who spoke out on the importance of renewed international support for the Afghan people.

All of the discussants in attendance, coming from over 32 countries, highlighted that the key to Europe’s Renaissance is a different collaboration among stakeholders.

“If we understand that we are all in this together, then the only way we can get out of it is together,” cautioned Roberta Metsola, First Vice-President of the European Parliament and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40). “This challenge is also making sure that our value system remains intact, a big challenge across the European Union.”

For the last 18 years, State of Europe has been gathering influential figures from more than 40 countries to brainstorm on the future of Europe and develop concrete recommendations on how to make our continent more fit for the 21st century, as well as deliver to its citizens.

This year edition was organised in partnership with Edwards, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Space Agency (ESA), Generali, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and Vodafone with the support of the Fondazione Cariplo, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit foundation and EUCOM.

State of Europe 2021

About State of Europe

About State of Europe

On Thursday 14 October 2021, State of Europe – the festival of politics and ideas: a new Renaissance went hybrid for the first time since Covid-19, combining networking activities in Brussels with global debates involving top influencers and civil society across Europe and the wider world. The event provided a unique platform for Friends of Europe’s core community to come together at this landmark moment, from our expanding European Young Leaders alumni to leading opinion-shapers, our Board of Trustees and strategic partners. We connected with heads of international institutions, sitting (and former) heads of states, CEOs, members of parliament and citizens in diverse settings across Europe and internationally. State of Europe 2021 was designed for everyone dedicated to transforming this rethink into action and provided the space to rethink together how our societies should be designed to be future proofed.


Since, 2018, Friends of Europe has been working with citizens and key stakeholders to push for a new European social contract. Their key recommendations will serve as backbone of what we will be discussing this year, read them in the reports below:

Schedule

Schedule

EARLY BIRD MASTERCLASS — The world in 2030: will Europe be ready?
Expand EARLY BIRD MASTERCLASS — The world in 2030: will Europe be ready?

For participants on-site only

Systemic shocks, climate change, changing demographics, global economic shifts and the accelerating rollout of disruptive technologies are just some of the challenges that Europe and the world face as we move into the future. How can the EU ensure that democracy, justice, and equality not only survive but thrive in this new era? How can Europe harness the future?

These early bird masterclasses will look into the key issues that Europe should lead on if it wants to be a global leader and value setter in 2030 and beyond.

Conversation tables on these topics will be discussed by futurists and other thinkers, including:

Table 1 – AI in the midst of a global pandemic: looking at the use and implications of disruptive technologies in crisis response strategies

Sacha Alanoca

Senior AI Policy Researcher & Head of Community Development at The Future Society

TABLE 2 – Democratic decline and renewal prospects

Mathew Burrows

Director of the Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative at the Atlantic Council

TABLE 3 – Economic global shifts: how can Europe harness the future? 

Fabienne Goux-Baudiment

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ProGective

TABLE 4 – The accelerating rollout of disruptive technologies: how will it impact the demographic changes and a growing human population?

Nicolas Moës

Head of Operations & AI Policy Researcher at The Future Society

TABLE 5 – Industrial innovation for the green transition

Laurent Bontoux

Member of the Cabinet of European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovic

moderator

Jamie Shea

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges at NATO

PLENARY - SCENE SETTING — Harnessing the power of speed
Expand PLENARY - SCENE SETTING — Harnessing the power of speed

The new world moves fast. To remain ahead of the curve, Europe needs to be forward-looking rather than simply reactive, embedding a ‘black swan’ mentality into policymaking so that no future crisis will ever shake us as much as those we face today.
The speed at which systems have transformed shows that Europe can be agile and effective. The recovery plans are a key tool to keep the momentum of this transition. If we are able to maintain the speed of change we have seen over the past months, we could expect the best outcomes for a new social contract, in which basic services, healthcare, education and housing are informed by our key values of inclusion, fairness and sustainability.
What are the key lessons from 2020 and what should resilient systems and sustained growth look like for the future?

FIRESIDE CHAT WITH

Solveigh Hieronimus

Senior Partner at McKinsey&Co. and Co-leader of the McKinsey Center for Government (MCG)

Céline Gauer

European Commission Director-General and Head of the Recovery and Resilience Task Force (RECOVER)

CLOSING REMARKS

Etienne Davignon

President of Friends of Europe, Belgian Minister of State and former European Commission Vice-President

moderator

Dharmendra Kanani

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

PLENARY - OPENING SESSION — Don’t take the foot off the pedal too quickly
Expand PLENARY - OPENING SESSION — Don’t take the foot off the pedal too quickly

After a shock like 2020, governments need growth to pay back what has been invested in society, otherwise bankruptcies and unemployment – currently kept artificially low – will increase. We need to continue to spend – but wisely.

The problem is not debt per se. If it stems from productive investments in infrastructure, health, education, innovation and other public goods, debt determines future growth and yields high returns.

Exiting the crisis, how should governments manage significant public debt and the shadow of hyperinflation while trying to realign economies through recovery and resilience plans?

with

Anna Ascani

Italian Undersecretary of State for Economic Development and Vice President of the Democratic Party

Philippe Donnet

Group Chief Executive Officer of Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.

Johannes Hahn

European Commissioner for Budget

Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group

Gert Jan Koopman

European Commission Director-General for Budget (DG BUDG)

moderator

Dharmendra Kanani

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

Coffee Break
SESSION I — A critical year: energy transition between climate change, affordability and recovery
Expand SESSION I — A critical year: energy transition between climate change, affordability and recovery

2021 sees the release of the IPCC’s latest alarming report and a critical international summit at COP26 in Glasgow, against the backdrop of an uneven and bumpy global recovery from the pandemic. Energy prices are climbing, commodity and consumer supply chains are stretched, hundreds of billions are being spent on recovery measures, and new climate targets are being announced in many countries. In Europe, the EU Climate Law sets a legally binding target for the Union to become climate-neutral by mid-century, and an ambitious set of measures is being prepared to support the transformation to 2030 and beyond.

This year’s World Energy Outlook from the IEA aims to provide a guide in this uncertain and dynamic context.

OPENING REMARKS

Fatih Birol

Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

with

Susan Aitken

Leader of Glasgow City Council

Laura Cozzi

Chief Energy Modeller of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

moderator

Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe

SESSION II — Race to space
Expand SESSION II — Race to space

Space is highly strategic. As Europe sets out a strong space strategy to assert its position as a global leader, what are the technological, financial, environmental and geopolitical challenges in the race to space? How can we  ensure safe, autonomous, reliable and affordable access to space – while preserving its assets?

with

Josef Aschbacher

Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Susmita Mohanty

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Earth2Orbit

Masami Onoda

Director of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Washington D.C. Office

Anna Rathsman

Director-General of the Swedish National Space Agency

moderator

Dharmendra Kanani

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

Lunch
SESSION III — Digital for a successful Europe
Expand SESSION III — Digital for a successful Europe

Ambitious digitalisation in line with the values of the EU is a key tool to recovery and lays the foundation for the Union’s sustained growth and competitiveness.

In order to be successful, Europe will need forward-looking digital legislation that regulates in advance of adversity, rather than simply punishing afterwards. Europe must rapidly put in place a unified digital market and the hard infrastructure to guarantee sovereignty and advance global leadership, while simultaneously providing all citizens with fair access to high-quality connectivity to combat widening inequalities.

This kind of digital policy encompasses the interests of society, the economy and government and supports the Union in its green transition. How do we make all this happen?

This session will be the launch of the Connected Europe report, discussing how Europe can foster a successful, green and resilient digital transformation, with citizens at its heart.

with

Salvador Estevan

Director General for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence at the Spanish Ministry for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation

Roberta Metsola

First Vice-President of the European Parliament and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Laura Piovesan

Director for Sustainability at the European Investment Bank (EIB)

Ben Wreschner

Chief Economist at Vodafone

moderator

Dharmendra Kanani

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

SESSION IV — Health is the new Europe
Expand SESSION IV — Health is the new Europe

To sustain prosperity in Europe, governments need to invest in ‘healthy life extension’. For every euro spent on healthcare, four are generated.

This gives governments the best return on investment for their citizens and economy. The pandemic has unlocked new cash for health at both EU and member state level, so how can we strategically allocate it to find new and innovative ways to organise healthcare effectively at the local, national and European levels?

What innovation can be the smart enabler of the new social contract?

with

Mina Gaga

Greek Alternate Minister for Health

Jean-Luc Lemercier

Corporate Vice-President of Europe, Middle East, Africa, Canada & Latin America at Edwards Lifesciences 

Mario Monti

Chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development and Trustee of Friends of Europe

Johannes Schildt

Co-Founder and CEO of KRY/LIVI and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Aleksandra Torbica

Associate Professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences and Director of the Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management (CERGAS) at Bocconi University

moderator

Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe

Coffee Break
SESSION V — What is the future purpose of foreign policy and diplomacy in a changed world?
Expand SESSION V — What is the future purpose of foreign policy and diplomacy in a changed world?

Global challenges require global solutions and collaboration informed by multilateralism and fair-trade practices. Hopes for a more cooperative multilateral order, based on open trade and the rule of law, have given way to great power rivalries, ideological competition and a growing willingness by many states to use military power to intimidate neighbours or force to resolve disputes.

With the rise of authoritarian states, how can the EU strengthen its geopolitical weight and, together with its partners, successfully use diplomacy to promote democratic models of governance without imposing them by force or applying a one-size-fits-all approach?

with

Zarifa Ghafari

Afghan activist and former mayor of Maidan Shahr

moderator

Jamie Shea

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges at NATO

Break
CLOSING SESSION — What’s in the cards for 2022
Expand CLOSING SESSION — What’s in the cards for 2022

In the post-COVID reset, temporary government funding will be withdrawn and the full economic cost of the pandemic will need to be addressed. The inequalities in our society, so sharply revealed by COVID-19, urgently need to be fixed. Governments seeking to rein in public debt will look to save money and boost economic growth. The policy decisions of the next months will define the winners and losers of the transition. Citizens expect fairness and transparency in the way that the record-breaking recovery and resilience package is spent.

This set of parallel conversation tables will produce the recommendations to be included in our #StateofEU report published in November which will be socialised and distributed among top policymakers and influencers. It will also serve as a basis to provide a meaningful hook of engagement with citizens.

Conversation tables on:

DIGITAL TRANSITION

Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke

Founder & Managing Director of Women's Worldwide Web (W4) and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

André Loesekrug-Pietri

Chairman and Scientific Director of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI) and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

GREEN TRANSITION

Magid Magid

Founder and Director of Union of Justice and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

HEALTH

Loubna Bouarfa

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OKRA Technologies

EUROPE’S ECONOMIES

Dragoș Pîslaru

Member of the European Parliament and Co-rapporteur of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF)

EUROPE’S ROLE IN THE WORLD

Samir Abdelkrim

Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Emerging Valley and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Cecilia Malmström

Visiting Professor at Göteborg University, former European commissioner for trade and Trustee of Friends of Europe

moderator

Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe

End of the State of Europe – the Festival of politics and ideas
Discussants

Discussants

Photo of Samir Abdelkrim
Samir Abdelkrim

Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Emerging Valley and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Samir Abdelkrim

Samir Abdelkrim  is not only a French entrepreneur but also an author and a tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Abdelkrim is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in the Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, “Startup Lions”, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative “Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean”, Abdelkrim was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.

Photo of Susan Aitken
Susan Aitken

Leader of Glasgow City Council

Show more information on Susan Aitken

Susan Aitken is a Scottish politician and currently serves as Leader of Glasgow City Council. Under her leadership, Glasgow will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which she has described this as a defining moment in the city’s history that could lead to a new international agreement. Championing the role of cities in the green transition, her ambition is to make Glasgow the United Kingdom’s first zero-carbon city. She also serves as councillor for her home area of Langside and leads the Council’s Scottish National Party group.

Sacha Alanoca
Sacha Alanoca

Senior AI Policy Researcher & Head of Community Development at The Future Society

Show more information on Sacha Alanoca

Sacha Alanoca manages projects and research centred on the governance, policy and ethics of AI systems. Her research topics range from national AI national strategies, AI for development, algorithmic bias and existential risks, to international initiatives for trustworthy AI adoption including AI ethical guidelines with a focus on privacy and algorithmic fairness, the use of independent audits for AI systems, and civic empowerment platforms such as the AI Civic Forum. Her past work also focused on the impact of social and ecological trends in Latin America and the responsible use of AI in pandemic response. Previously, Alanoca worked at the OECD Development Center in Paris.

Anna Ascani
Anna Ascani

Italian Undersecretary of State for Economic Development and Vice President of the Democratic Party

Show more information on Anna Ascani

Anna Ascani is the Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, since 1st March 2021. Being responsible for digital transition, ICT technologies and cooperatives, Ascani is one of the main actors of the Italian recovery. She has been a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies since 2013 and she has served as Deputy Minister of Education between 2019 and 2021. After several years of political activity, she is currently the Vice-President of the Democratic Party (PD), where she has also been the coordinator of the Culture Department.

Josef Aschbacher
Josef Aschbacher

Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Show more information on Josef Aschbacher

Thirty years ago, Josef Aschbacher began his career at the European Space Agency (ESA) where he was seconded as the ESA Representative to Southeast Asia at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. Later, he joined the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy, where he served as scientific assistant to the Director of the Space Applications Institute. Upon his return to ESA headquarters in Paris, he was tasked with advancing Copernicus activities within ESA, going on to become head of the Copernicus Space Office, where he led all activities for Copernicus within the Agency and with external partners, in particular the European Commission. Before taking office as the ESA’s Director General, Aschbacher was entrusted with planning the ESA’s Earth Observation Programme, as well as formulating and implementing programmatic and strategic decisions across the Directorate.

Fatih Birol
Fatih Birol

Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

Show more information on Fatih Birol

Under Fatih Birol’s leadership, the IEA has moved to the forefront of global efforts to reach international climate goals while ensuring that the social and economic impacts of clean energy transitions are at the heart of policymaking and energy security is safeguarded. Birol led the IEA in its first comprehensive modernisation programme since its creation. These efforts focused on opening the doors to major emerging economies, making the IEA the global hub for clean energy transitions and broadening its energy security mandate beyond oil to also cover electricity, natural gas, renewables and the critical minerals needed in many of today’s clean energy technologies. Most recently, he was named among the 100 most influential people of 2021 by Time Magazine.

Laurent Bontoux
Laurent Bontoux

Member of the Cabinet of European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovic

Show more information on Laurent Bontoux

Previously serving as Senior Foresight Expert in the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s Competence Centre for Foresight, Laurent Bontoux plays a role in bringing future-oriented systemic thinking into EU policymaking, while striving to be as inclusive as possible and to apply participative approaches. Starting his career off as a food technology engineer and an environmental engineer, he went on to spend three years ensuring the environmental safety of household products at Procter & Gamble in Brussels. Since joining the European Commission in 1993, Bontoux has spent most of his career working at the nexus of science and policy on a wide range of issues, including health and environmental risk assessment, research, environmental technologies, sustainability issues and long-term thinking.

Loubna Bouarfa
Loubna Bouarfa

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OKRA Technologies

Show more information on Loubna Bouarfa

Loubna Bouarfa is a machine learning expert with extensive expertise in implementing artificial intelligence solutions for real-world applications. She founded OKRA Technologies as a means to apply machine learning to healthcare. The company aims to change the way pharmaceutical companies access and generate real-world evidence and provides a platform that allows them to respond to a changing healthcare market. Bouarfa holds a number of advisory positions and is a member of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group for Artificial Intelligence. Loubna was recognised by the MIT Technology Review as one of their Innovators Under 35.

Mathew Burrows
Mathew Burrows

Director of the Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative at the Atlantic Council

Show more information on Mathew Burrows

Mathew Burrows is a leading expert in strategic foresight and global trend analysis. Burrows is the former councillor at the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and worked as an analyst for the Directorate of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), covering western Europe and the development of European institutions, including the European Union. He has also served as a special assistant to the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, as well as deputy national security advisor to former US treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill. Burrows was the first holder of the Intelligence Community Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Francesca Cavallo
Francesca Cavallo

Bestselling author of “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”, Founder & CEO of Undercats and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40) 

Show more information on Francesca Cavallo

Francesca Cavallo is a bestselling author of children’s books, entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Undercats Media. She is the co-creator of ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, a collection of 100 tales of extraordinary women that has become a publishing sensation. Francesca’s career began in theatre, where she worked as both a manager for a theatre company and as a playwright. In 2012, she moved to California to co-found a children’s media start-up called Timbuktu Labs, Inc. Since then, she has authored nine picture books that have been translated into more than 47 languages. Her most recent international bestseller is the children’s book “Doctor Li and the Crown-wearing Virus”.

Laura Cozzi
Laura Cozzi

Chief Energy Modeller of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

Show more information on Laura Cozzi

As Chief Energy Modeller, Laura Cozzi oversees the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) outlooks and forecasts. She is in charge of ensuring the consistency of the modelling work and the resulting messages. Cozzi is also Head of the Demand Outlook Division, responsible for producing the annual World Energy Outlook: the IEA flagship publication that is regarded as the gold standard in energy analysis. The Division produces medium- to long-term energy demand, efficiency, power generation, renewables and environmental analysis for this report and other publications.

Etienne Davignon
Etienne Davignon

President of Friends of Europe, Belgian Minister of State and former European Commission Vice-President

Show more information on Etienne Davignon

Etienne (Stevy) Davignon is one of the few statesmen in Europe who has been actively involved in EU affairs from the beginning, from his early role as Chief of Staff to Paul-Henri Spaak to today. He has held high-level positions in both the public and private sectors, including as Vice-President of the European Commission, President of the Société Générale de Belgique, first President of the International Energy Agency and through various board mandates.

Philippe Donnet
Philippe Donnet

Group Chief Executive Officer of Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.

Show more information on Philippe Donnet

Under Philippe Donnet’s leadership, the Generali Group signed the European green recovery alliance, committing the Italy-based insurance and asset management company to an active role in the green recovery of the European economy through sustainable investments and social responsibility. Further, Donnet is a strong proponent of public-private partnerships as a key to Europe’s future success. In his previous role as Country Manager Italy at Generali, Donnet spearheaded the initiative to merge the five Generali brands operating in Italy, one of Europe’s most complex integration and simplification projects in the industry. Prior to joining Generali, Donnet held several management positions within the AXA Group working across several continents. In addition, he was Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Wendel Investissements in Singapore and co-founded the investment management company HLD in Paris.

Salvador Estevan
Salvador Estevan

Director General for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence at the Spanish Ministry for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation

Show more information on Salvador Estevan

Salvador Estevan currently leads the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, developing a policy framework to unleash the potential of AI in the economy and society. He played a crucial role in the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and in the definition of the Digital Spain 2025 agenda. In his former role as the deputy head of communications of the General Secretariat for Digital Administration, he managed natural language projects and AI applications to improve the digital services of the administration and reinvent public services that are fit for the digital age.

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Mina Gaga

Greek Alternate Minister for Health

Show more information on Mina Gaga

In addition to her role at the Greek Ministry of Health, Mina Gaga is an advisor to the WHO and serves on the European Diploma Examination Committee HERMES. She is the Director of the 7th Respiratory Medicine Department and Asthma Centre at Athens Chest Hospital Sotiria, the largest lung cancer centre in Greece. A clinician by trade, Gaga also undertakes clinical research with a focus on lung cancer and asthma. Having served as president of the Central Health Council of Greece, she has also held several roles at the European Respiratory Society School and the European Board of Accreditation in Pneumology, contributing to the development of international guidelines and requirements for asthma and lung cancer care.

Céline Gauer
Céline Gauer

European Commission Director-General and Head of the Recovery and Resilience Task Force (RECOVER)

Show more information on Céline Gauer

To tackle the COVID-19 recovery, Céline Gauer was appointed as the first Head of RECOVER. Her strong negotiation and leadership skills enable her to take on the challenging role of implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Her mission is to rebuild a more resilient Europe that is well prepared for the digital and green transitions. During her fruitful career at the European institutions, she has worked as the former deputy secretary-general in charge of the Smart Regulation and Work Programme and Policy Co-ordination, deputy director-general of the Directorate-General Health and Food Safety and held various positions at the Directorate-General for Competition.

Zarifa Ghafari
Zarifa Ghafari

Afghan activist and former mayor of Maidan Shahr

Show more information on Zarifa Ghafari

Zarifa Ghafari is an Afghan human rights activist, politician and entrepreneur. Appointed mayor of Maidan Shahr at the age of 26, she became the youngest mayor and one of the first female mayors in Afghan history. Known for her efforts to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan, Ghafari is regarded as a role model to women in her country. When the Taliban took over the Afghanistan government in August 2021, she fled with her family to Germany. Today, Ghafari hopes to raise the unspoken voice of Afghan women throughout the international community to fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Sylvie Goulard
Sylvie Goulard

Deputy Governor of the Banque de France

Show more information on Sylvie Goulard

During the pandemic, Sylvie Goulard was appointed by the World Health Organization to serve as a member of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development in order to ensure that health tops the political agenda. Goulard is the former French minister of the Armed Forces, the second woman ever to hold the head position and has previously served as member of the European Parliament, where she addressed issues related to fighting poverty and advocating for gender equality in European institutions. Goulard began her career as a diplomat in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France.

Fabienne Goux-Baudiment
Fabienne Goux-Baudiment

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ProGective

Show more information on Fabienne Goux-Baudiment

Fabienne Goux-Baudiment is a French futurist and the founder of ProGective, an independent organisation, entirely devoted to prospective and foresight. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Foresight, Entrepreneurship & Intangible Capital at the University of Angers, Fellow at the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), and sits on the editorial boards of Futures, Foresight and Journal of Future Studies. Goux-Baudiment is the former president of the WFSF and has also served as the vice-president of the Center for Transcultural Foresight. She is currently a member of both the Association of Professional Futurists and the World Future Society.

Photo of Johannes Hahn
Johannes Hahn

European Commissioner for Budget

Show more information on Johannes Hahn

Johannes Hahn is an Austrian politician at the forefront of Europe’s recovery and the Next Generation EU policy instrument. Under his watch, the EU will kickstart its green bond sales in October 2021, transforming the EU into the largest issuer of environmentally-friendly debt in the world. Hahn is the former European commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations and the former European commissioner for regional policy, prior to which he served as the Austrian minster for science and research. As a member of the Austrian People’s Party youth movement, he drafted the party’s first European manifesto and adopted a resolutely pro-European stance.

Solveigh Hieronimus
Solveigh Hieronimus

Senior Partner at McKinsey&Co. and Co-leader of the McKinsey Center for Government (MCG)

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Solveigh Hieronimus leads the global McKinsey Center for Government (MCG) and predominantly serves clients in the public sector on topics related to digital and data strategies, sustainability, public health and public finance. She is a leader in McKinsey’s Organization Practice and a member of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Council, which advises on MGI research on global economic, business and technology trends. Previously, Hieronimus has held various positions at the United Nations, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. She is passionate about all things EU and serves on the European Commission’s high-level expert panel for the Future of Work.

Dharmendra Kanani
Dharmendra Kanani

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

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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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Gert Jan Koopman

European Commission Director-General for Budget (DG BUDG)

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An experienced civil servant, Gert Jan Koopman has worked at the European Commission for over 25 years. His professional career is best characterised by one of his personal mottos, “here to tell the stories behind the numbers”. He is currently responsible for the European Union’s financial programming, annual budget, accounting and financial rules and, most notably, leads the implementation of Next Generation EU, the policy instrument designed to kickstart Europe’s economic and social post-pandemic recovery. Prior to this, Koopman worked on the overhaul of State aid policy through the State Aid Modernisation programme at the Directorate-General for Competition and served as director for strategy and policy co-ordination at the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs.

Jean-Luc Lemercier
Jean-Luc Lemercier

Corporate Vice-President of Europe, Middle East, Africa, Canada & Latin America at Edwards Lifesciences 

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Prior to assuming his current role at Edwards Lifesciences, the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease, Jean-Luc Lemercier served as the vice president of transcatheter heart valves EMEA. Under his leadership, the company successfully launched the SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve technology and built its leadership position in Europe. Lemercier also serves as Chair of the Cardiovascular Sector Group of MedTech Europe, the association representing the medical technology industry in Europe.

Joe Litobarski
Joe Litobarski

Editor-in-Chief of Citizen Outreach & Engagement

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Pronouns: he/him
Joe is the Editor of Debating Europe. He has been active in the EU blogosphere since 2008. Before starting work for Friends of Europe in 2011, he worked as a freelance journalist in the UK and Brussels, and edited BlogActiv.eu, a dedicated EU blogging platform. A part of Friends of Europe, Debating Europe is a successful online discussion platform based on a simple model: citizens ask questions, policymakers and experts respond. Since launching, it has built a 4.5 million strong community of citizens and a social media following of over 280,000 people from across Europe.

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André Loesekrug-Pietri

Chairman and Scientific Director of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI) and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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André Loesekrug-Pietri is an entrepreneur and has held leadership positions in private equity, government and industry. He is currently the Chairman of JEDI, which aims to accelerate Europe’s leadership by financing and nurturing the development of breakthrough technologies. He previously served as a special advisor to the French Minister of Defence, where he was responsible for European defence policy, as well as technology and innovation, prior to which he has 15 years of experience in private equity and venture capital. Loesekrug-Pietri is a lecturer at Sciences Po and a regular columnist at several international media outlets. Having studied aerospace engineering, he is also a private pilot and Colonel with the French Air Force People’s Reserve.

Gottfried Ludewig
Gottfried Ludewig

Head of the Directorate General for Digitalisation and Innovation at the German Ministry of Health and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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In his current position, Gottfried is advancing the digitalisation and innovative capacity of Germany’s health sector. Prior to this, he was the Deputy Chairman and the spokesperson for health issues of the Christian Democrats Union parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives. In this position, Gottfried was particularly committed to strengthening research and innovation in the healthcare sector as well as advocating for the creation of a Berlin nursing home as an institutionalised representation of the care sector in the Berlin House of Representatives.
He is also an alumni of the European Young Leader (EYL40) programme led by Friends of Europe.

Magid Magid
Magid Magid

Founder and Director of Union of Justice and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Magid Magid is a Somali-British race and climate justice activist, organiser and author, who moved to the United Kingdom as a refugee at the age of five. He is the Founder and Director of Union of Justice, an independent European people of colour-led organisation dedicated to racial and climate justice. He is also the Co-Chair of the refugee charity, City of Sanctuary Sheffield. Magid served as a Green Party member of the European Parliament, representing Yorkshire and the Humber for nearly two years until the UK’s exit from the EU. He is the former lord mayor of Sheffield, the youngest person ever and the first Green Party councillor to hold the office. Squatting on a staircase in Sheffield town hall and sporting a pair of Dr Martens, Magid’s inaugural portrait became an internet sensation. Magid was named one of TIME’s 100 rising stars shaping the future of the world.

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Cecilia Malmström

Visiting Professor at Göteborg University, former European commissioner for trade and Trustee of Friends of Europe

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Cecilia Malmström is a renowned Swedish politician who has held various positions at the national and European level. As the European commissioner for trade, she was responsible for pursuing an ambitious trade agenda to the benefit of European citizens, SMEs and the broader economy, as well as negotiating key bilateral trade agreements, including a comprehensive EU-China investment agreement. Prior to her role at the Commission, Malmström was also the Swedish minister for EU affairs and served as a member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Constitutional Affairs, among others.

Roberta Metsola
Roberta Metsola

First Vice-President of the European Parliament and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Roberta Metsola is first Vice-President of the European Parliament and serves as a member on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, among several other parliamentary committees and delegations. A lawyer by profession, Roberta is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) Group and among the first female members of parliament to represent Malta. She is a two-time recipient of Parliament Magazine’s MEP Award, receiving recognition for her work on justice and civil liberties, and hosted the awards ceremony in 2017.

Nicolas Moës
Nicolas Moës

Head of Operations & AI Policy Researcher at The Future Society

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Nicolas Moës seeks to advance the European governance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. While working at The Future Society, he has co-authored a report on digitalisation and European welfare states and the 2020 advisory report for the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) Responsible AI Working Group. He also co-produced the 2019 Global Governance of AI Forum and the Athens AI Roundtable on AI in the Rule of Law. Previously, he worked for the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel on EU technology, AI and innovation policy. Throughout his career, Moës has consistently sought to ensure that disruptive technologies generate the greatest benefits for society.

amina j. mohammed
Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group

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Prior to her current appointment, Amina J. Mohammed served as the Nigerian minister of environment, spearheading the country’s efforts on climate action and environmental protection. She first joined the United Nations as special adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to facilitate the Millennium Development Goals. She led the process that resulted in a global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals, for which she was awarded the 2019 Global Citizen World Leader Prize. Mohammed has also previously worked in the public sector in Nigeria as an advisor to four successive presidents on poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development.

Susmita Mohanty
Susmita Mohanty

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Earth2Orbit

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Susmita Mohanty is a spaceship designer, climate ambassador and entrepreneur. She has co-founded space companies on three different continents: EARTH2ORBIT in Bangalore, LIQUIFER in Vienna and MOONFRONT in San Francisco. Prior to her entrepreneurship journey, she worked for the International Space Station Program at Boeing in California and served at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Mohanty is a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Future Council for Space Technologies and was selected as one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2019.

Mario Monti
Mario Monti

Chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development and Trustee of Friends of Europe

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As Chair of the newly-formed WHO Europe Commission, Mario Monti spearheads attempts to rethink health policy priorities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A distinguished economist and Italian lifetime senator, Monti has cemented his reputation as a committed supporter of the single currency and a talented negotiator, leading a government of technocrats in the wake of the Italian debt crisis in late 2011. He chaired the High-Level Group on Own Resources, a consultative committee of the European Union, aimed at proposing new forms of revenue for the European Union’s budget, which resulted in the final report “Future Financing of the EU” arguing for new tax sources.

Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke
Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke

Founder & Managing Director of Women's Worldwide Web (W4) and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke is Founder & CEO of W4.org, a social enterprise dedicated to protecting girls’ and women’s human rights and promoting their empowerment around the world, with a focus on Sustainable Development Goal 5b: harnessing technologies. Nefesh-Clarke worked in human rights and development in Africa and Asia at Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, Enfants d’Asie, before founding W4. Named a “Women in IT Role Model” by the European Commission and one of the “Inspiring Fifty” women leaders in Europe’s technology sector, Nefesh-Clarke is a board member of the Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI), which aims to advance the work of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She is also a Senior Fellow for Friends of Europe’s Connect Europe initiative, and a member of the advisory board of UN Women France.

Masami Onoda
Masami Onoda

Director of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Washington D.C. Office

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Masami Onoda is currently Director of JAXA Washington D.C. Office. Onoda has extensive experience in international affairs, satellite applications, and industry relations. She has held several international positions, including at the Group on Earth Observations Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, and at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna, Austria.

Luca Parmitano
Luca Parmitano

Astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA)

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Luca Parmitano was the first Italian to serve as the commander of the International Space Station and is the ESA astronaut who has spent the most time in space, logging a total of 366 days. Awarded the Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic in a recognition of his achievements, Parmitano is not the typical astronaut, having performed the very first DJ session in orbit and addressed world leaders at COP25. Parmitano is also a Colonel and former test pilot of the Italian Air Force.

Laura Piovesan
Laura Piovesan

Director for Sustainability at the European Investment Bank (EIB)

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Laura Piovesan is an Italian engineer, who currently works for the European Investment Bank, the largest multilateral lender, where her primary role is to carry out techno-economic assessments of projects requesting EIB funding. A champion of sustainability with the ambitious aim of turning the EIB into Europe’s climate bank, the EIB has changed its strategy under her leadership and set the goal of dedicating 50% of the bank’s financing to climate and environment by 2025. Piovesan has previously worked as a research scientist and industrial economist for an Italian engineering company.

Dragoș Pîslaru
Dragoș Pîslaru

Member of the European Parliament and Co-rapporteur of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF)

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Dragoș Pîslaru is a Romanian economist and politician. He has been a member of the European Parliament since 2019 on behalf of USR PLUS, affiliated with the European political group, Renew Europe. He is a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Subcommittee on Tax Matters. Pîslaru is also the co-rapporteur on the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the largest financial instrument created by the European Union for the economic recovery of the Union after the pandemic.

Anna Rathsman
Anna Rathsman

Director-General of the Swedish National Space Agency

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With many years of experience in the space industry, Anna Rathsman has worked as a systems engineer, subsystem engineer, technology development manager, business developer and communications director. She was involved in the building of Sweden’s first scientific satellites as a member of the team that designed and realised the research satellite, Freja. Rathsman also led the work on the first Swedish microsatellite, Astrid-1. She has served on the boards of several Swedish space technology companies and is currently Chair of the European Space Agency (ESA) Council.

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Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow for Health at Friends of Europe

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Tamsin Rose is Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe. Having studied international relations, she has 25 years of experience working across the European continent from Ireland to Mongolia. A natural communicator, Tamsin has been a radio reporter, worked on press for the EU Delegation in Moscow and is currently a member of the external speaker team for the European Commission Directorate General for Communication, describing how the EU works and key policies to visitor groups from around the world. Since 2002 she has specialised in public health and public participation issues, serving as Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), and providing strategic advice for health groups on how to engage successfully with the EU.

David Sassoli
David Sassoli

President of the European Parliament

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In his current position, David Sassoli champions the European Parliament as a means to strengthen European democracy. Most notably, he has led the work of the European railway reform and the Single European Sky initiative. As a member of the European Parliament, he has previously served as delegation leader of the Democratic Party, a member of the Committee for Transport and Tourism and vice-president of the European Parliament, with responsibility for Mediterranean policy, budget and buildings. Before entering the world of European politics, he worked on the editorial team of TG1 as a special correspondent and later deputy director, as well as at the Rai Uno and Rai Due news programmes.

Johannes Schildt
Johannes Schildt

Co-Founder and CEO of KRY/LIVI and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Johannes Schildt  is a Swedish serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of KRY/LIVI, which he plans to develop into the world’s leading healthcare provider by combining medical expertise with state-of-the-art technology. Currently available in Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the business has pioneered the digital healthcare model by enabling people to see a medical doctor or a psychologist via remote video connection, thereby replacing the need for in-person consultations. To date, the app has delivered over two million appointments and is set to launch in more markets this year. Long part of Europe’s start-up scene, Schildt has also founded a number of other initiatives, including Tieday Group and Wowallets.

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Jamie Shea

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges at NATO

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Retiring from NATO in September 2018 after 38 years at the organisation, Jamie Shea has occupied a number of senior positions at NATO across a wide range of areas, including external relations, press and media, and policy planning. As NATO’s spokesperson, he was the face of the Alliance during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts. He later worked as the Director of Policy Planning in the private office of former Secretary General Rasmussen during the preparation of NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept. Shea is also a regular lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs.

Photo of Aleksandra Torbica
Aleksandra Torbica

Associate Professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences and Director of the Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management (CERGAS) at Bocconi University

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Aleksandra Torbica is a leading expert in health policy, health economics and healthcare management. In addition to her duties at Bocconi University in Milan, she sits on the executive board of the Italian Health Economics Association, where she previously served as secretary general. Her research interests lie at the intersection of health policy, health economics and healthcare management. She is interested in exploring different methodologies to investigate decision-making processes at macro (policy) and micro (management) levels, both in high- and lower-middle-income countries. A special advisor to the Chair of the WHO Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, she is also the Co-Editor of Value in Health, one of the leading international journals in the field of health economics and health policy.

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Ben Wreschner

Chief Economist at Vodafone

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Ben Wreschner is the Chief Economist and Head of Public Affairs, Vodafone Group. Ben has been in the Digital sector for 20 years. He has worked extensively in the Brussels environment representing Vodafone at key meetings with various institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, European Council, BEREC) and industry bodies. Ben holds a BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics.

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