Warsaw Seminar

08 March 2018 - 12:00 - 10 March 2018 - 14:15
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Marian Turski

The European Young Leaders meet at the beginning of a pre-election year for the EU, during which the jostling of right-wing populists and left-leaning neoliberals will move from the national arenas of member states to take centre-stage at the regional level. It’s a key moment for European citizens to examine their understanding of the European project, assess its strengths and weaknesses and their expectations for the future of the Union, in order to shape its governance for the coming years.

In this “Make-or-Break” year, it is important that Europeans reflect on shared values and norms, and whether there are still enough of these to unite Europeans around a common identity. In the 20th century, much of what were considered to be European values were those that allowed nation states to collaborate in the postwar decades, but with fewer and fewer veterans remaining to remind us of the alternative to a strong and peaceful EU, and the World Wars receding further into the history books, what is the nature of the European identity in the 21st century?

At the same time, common identity and community are most strongly felt at a local level, and city councils are the first port of call for citizens who seek change in their day-to-day environments, whether that be to increase the local supply of jobs and housing; to manage social cohesion and the integration of migrants; or to create a thriving business hub capable of sustaining the local economy. It is city councils who are at the front line of engagement with European citizens, and it is from cities, such as Warsaw, that we see the greatest advocacy for creating inclusive, open societies, and a thriving European single market.

The overarching “Make-or-Break” theme has two main components which will be further reflected throughout the European Young Leaders’ programme during this important year. The first of these is the enabling and embedding of resilience in the people, policies and processes of the European project. The second concerns the bridging of the gap between citizens and states, which has widened in recent years due to an increasing lack of trust and confidence in governments and the EU institutions. To achieve this, there is a clear need to re-position citizens at the heart of Europe, and encourage them to more directly contribute to shaping Europe.

The Warsaw seminar is the first of a series of seminars which form the foundation of the 2018 edition of the European Young Leaders’ programme, and its themes have been chosen to reflect the core work of Friends of Europe for this year and into the future. Many of the ideas generated in this seminar will feed into the 2018 workstream of our Citizens Europe programme and will also provide the basis for a series of wider follow-up debates via our online platform Debating Europe and its 3.1-million-strong community of citizens.

IMAGE CREDIT: TTstudio/Bigstock


What do a microbiologist, an entrepreneur, a journalist and a Member of Parliament have in common?

They are all European Young Leaders who are engaged in making Europe a global champion for a better world.

The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme, organised by Friends of Europe, is a unique, inventive and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents and initiatives.


Brexit looms large on the EU's agenda, and with the tide of populism narrowly missing many member states there is a need to update and reform the Brussels institutions and make sure that they work for European citizens.


08 March
12.00 - 13.45

Welcome lunch

13.45 - 14.00

Welcome and introduction to the seminar

14.00 - 15.00



Peer-to-Peer Exchange

What makes a good leader? In this session, Young Leaders will be divided into groups of 8-10 to exchange experiences and insight from their leadership journeys. Each group will present a summary of their discussion to the wider group in five minutes.

15.00 - 15.30

Coffee Break

15.30 - 17.30



How cities are leading the way forward on European cooperation

Traditional international cooperation has largely been coordinated between national governments and their representatives. But with uncertainty surrounding the national agendas of member states, and contribution to the European project becoming an increasingly divisive issue for national political parties, it is at the regional level, with local councils, that the drive to maintain and increase cooperation is most evident.

By acting at the local level to solve economic, social, and environmental issues, cities can bypass national political discord to create partnerships full of opportunities that accelerate action on issues affecting the daily lives of citizens across Europe. Cities are also teaming up, creating coalitions and sharing knowledge and innovative solutions to the greatest challenges facing Europeans. From climate change to migration, these strategic partnerships are rooted in substantial projects and initiatives that reflect cities’ ambitions, priorities and interests, giving them an increasingly prominent role in multilateral cooperation at the European level.

19.30 - 20.00


20.00 - 22.00

High-level Dinner: Women in Leadership

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, this high-level dinner will celebrate exceptional women who have made their mark as leaders across a range of fields in Europe, and beyond.


09 March
09.30 - 12.00



What defines European values in the 21st Century?

Across the continent, populists on both sides of the political spectrum are rising; economic inequality is increasing; the advent of digital technologies is speeding up the rate of change in our societies; even the nature of privacy and social interaction has been transformed in the early part of the 21st century.

This rapid pace of change has created an atmosphere of uncertainty, for good or ill, facilitating social division and increased competition to establish a dominant narrative which is capable of directing the remodelling of European values, as has recently been demonstrated in Britain, Poland, and Hungary.

12.00 - 13.00


13.00 - 14.00



Short conversations in an informal, roundtable setting with Young Leaders on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this useful network. This session will be divided into two 30 minute time slots.

14.00 - 14.30

Coffee Break

14.30 - 16.30



A concern for European citizens and companies?

Cyberterrorism is fast-becoming of the main concerns of European citizens in terms of European security. The subject has become increasingly topical as additional information has been revealed about the extent of Russian interference in elections across the world and the ‘WannaCry’ hack that interfered with public and private IT systems across Europe, including the NHS patient databases in the UK. In the past 18 months, the increased sophistication of malware and hacking attacks has demonstrated the capacity to affect not only individual systems, but also larger public infrastructure in the form of airport shut downs, banks unable to provide services to their customers, and hospitals not being able to carry out routine surgeries due to the infiltration of their IT systems and compromised patient data. The shift from small-scale cyberattacks to large-scale attacks on public infrastructure has heightened the public awareness of the vulnerability of data systems, leading to increased concern about the collection and handling of personal data, and the absence of transparency and accountability.


The plastics paradox: a dilemma for consumers

The increased spread of plastic is rooted in economic growth and increased consumer consumption. As populations have grown, global demand for products, many of which are made using plastic as a low-cost material for mass production, has led to the use of plastic in such a way that it assumes the characteristics of a cheap, easy, commodity.

This has been exacerbated by the rise of consumer-facing digital platforms which facilitate high-speed and disposable consumption by offering ‘click-to-buy’ purchases with round-the-clock delivery. In parallel, citizens and nation states are convinced of the need to tackle environmental damage caused and climate change linked to human activity. Supermarkets and small retail outlets are pressured to reduce and recycle plastic waste whilst simultaneously feeding mass consumption. Meanwhile, oceans have become dumping grounds for all manner of plastic waste, which has now become such a blight on ecosystems that plastics are now found in the deepest and furthest reaches of the marine environment.

16.30 - 17.00

Coffee Break

17.00 - 18.00


In this session, local Polish citizens will be invited to join the European Young Leaders for a public discussion on direct democratic processes, such as participatory budget planning, and the implications of these mechanisms as a means to stimulate greater involvement of citizens in shaping the future of Europe.

20.00 - 22.30



10 March
10.00 - 11.00



Short conversations in an informal, roundtable setting with Young Leaders on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this useful network. This session will be divided into two 30 minute time slots.

11.00 - 11.15

Coffee break

11.15 - 12.15


Reflecting on the past to protect Europe’s future

12.15 - 14.00


14.00 - 14.15

Closing remarks & end of seminar

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
Mayor of Warsaw
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is a Polish lawyer, Professor of Jurisprudence and politician who serves as Mayor of Warsaw since 2006, the first female politician to hold this position. Before becoming Mayor of Warsaw, she was the Chairperson of the National Bank of Poland, the central bank of Poland and, later on, Vice-President of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Marian Turski
Deputy Chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland
Marian Turski is a Polish-Jewish historian and journalist. He has headed the historical section of the Polityka weekly since 1958 and has been involved in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews project since its beginning. Having survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and two death marches in 1945, Turski has become an important personality of the Jewish community in Poland and for the memory of the Holocaust. As such, he is also a member of the Central Board of the Association of Jewish Combatants and Victims of the Second World War and Deputy Chairman of the International Auschwitz Committee.
Registration to this seminar is by invitation only.
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