Is Europe Alice in Wonderland?

Event Reports

Lewis Carroll’s curious child inspired the European Young Leaders (EYL40) spring seminar to ponder whether the European Union shares Alice’s sense of distorted perception and needs to urgently regain a grip on reality as it seeks to emerge from a rabbit hole filled with dangers infinitely more perplexing than the bloodthirsty royals, anthropomorphic beasts or Mad Hatter tea parties of Carroll’s novels.

The climate emergency, tech threats to democracy, supply chain frailties, migration dilemmas, polarised politics, Russian aggression, increasingly confrontational relations with China, the fight against corruption and the rise of domestic autocrats were just some of the challenges discussed at the Brussels event.

The strong, innovative and youthful leadership of Friends of Europe’s European Young Leaders (EYL40) represents hope for the future of a Europe that has been battered by a string of crises and now confronts its bloodiest conflict since the Second World War. Drawing inspiration from recent displays of collective unparalleled, and inspirational leadership worldwide, the EYL40 spring seminar welcomed in Brussels members of the EYL40 Class of 2023 – including Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine; Somali-Irish social activist Ifrah Ahmed; Olga Richterová, Deputy Speaker of the Czech Chamber of Deputies; and Raphaël Liégeois, Career Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA) – as well as EYL40 alumni and special guests to craft innovative responses to Europe’s most pressing challenges.

The seminar produced a range of ideas to be taken forward by the young leaders’ network and discussed with European decision-makers. Here’s a taste of the final recommendations:

  • The West must maintain and increase support for Ukraine’s war effort, post-war reconstruction and Euro-Atlantic ambitions.
  • Increase trans-Atlantic cooperation on tech regulation that ensures a balance between respect for free speech and the defence of democracy.
  • Revise migration strategies, with increased support for development and institution building in Africa; expanded legal migration routes; and effective integration policies.
  • Establish mechanisms to monitor the impact of tech innovations while they are still in the research and development stages, rather than seeking to regulate them after they are deployed.
  • Promote the role of women in defence and security institutions, as well as in peace processes.

European Young Leaders (EYL40) Brussels seminar

Find the full programme of the ‘Is Europe Alice in Wonderland?’ seminar here. The EYL40 programme is supported by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Fondazione Cariplo, the United States European Command (EUCOM) and Coca-Cola in Europe, and co-funded by the European Union. The Brussels seminar was also kindly supported by the UK Mission to the EU, as well as FIDE.

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