Young leaders from around Europe wrestled with moral dilemmas of modern society on 14 September, debating issues ranging from new genetic techniques in healthcare, to housing challenges in fast-mutating cities and improving integration for refugees.
Those were some of the issues up for debate on day two of the European Young Leaders (EYL40) seminar held in Malta, as part of Friends of Europe EYL40 programme bringing together pace-setters under-40 in fields ranging from politics and the media, to business, science and culture.
“I don’t think that medical advance is stoppable, or controllable,” said Gottfried Ludewig, Deputy Chairman and the spokesperson for health issues of the Christian Democrats Union parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives and 2018 European Young Leader, during a discussion on how genomics offers new horizons for healthcare.
The debate looked at the increased moves towards preventative, predictive and personalised healthcare and the benefits and risks which that entails. It confronted questions on genome editing, use of medical data and concern about the new technologies could generate more healthcare inequality.
“The more personalised healthcare becomes, the more important it is that we still have universal healthcare that is affordable at the point of use,” said Barbara Prainsack, Political Science Professor at the University of Vienna and King's College London.
In an open session, the Young Leaders met with Maltese citizens to discuss the functioning of democracy in the context of Friends of Europe’s #EuropeMatters project ahead of next year’s European Parliament election.
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola and 2018 European Young Leader expressed concern about the outcome of that vote given the rise in support for extremist parties. “My fear is that the next European Parliament, will look very different from the one we see today,” she said. “It has now become almost cool to stand up in the European Parliament and bash the European Union.”
The Young Leaders split into two groups for parallel sessions on the potential of Blockchain technology and implementing a more inclusive approach to housing.
Juha Kaakinen, Chief Executive of Y-Foundation, Finland's biggest non-profit nationwide housing organisation explained his country’s success in cutting the numbers of homeless people. “It’s first of all a social and moral issue, you can judge the level of society by its achievements,” he said. “If you see homeless people on the streets it says everything about the society.”
In smaller working groups the Young Leaders produced a series of recommendations on improving refugee integration; pan-European education; spatial living possibilities; and promoting gender equality in the tech and cultural spheres.
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Led by Friends of Europe, each year the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings together talented, established leaders, aged 40 and under, who have made their mark in a wide range of fields such as politics, science, business, media, NGOs, the arts and civil society. You can find more information about the programme in the EYL40 overview. The programme was originally conceived with EuropaNova.