The European Young Leaders meet during the second half of a pre-election year for Europe, 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 European 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.
Winning audiences through both digital and traditional media will be intrinsic to the outcome of these elections, whilst citizens themselves must be more vigilant than ever to guard against “fake news” when assessing the campaigns of the candidates and parties vying for their support. Meanwhile, social platforms operating in Europe will face increased scrutiny as to how they filter and manage the information presented to their users, particularly in the wake of alleged Russian and North Korean interference in democratic processes across Europe, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The overarching pre-election 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.
The Valletta seminar is the second in 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 3.5 million strong community of citizens.
Welcome buffet lunch
A moment to welcome the 2018 class of European Young Leaders to their second seminar and an opportunity for them to meet with their peers from the EYL40 community.
Welcome and introduction to the seminar
14.00 - 15.00
GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
How great leaders inspire action?
Young Leaders will be divided into groups to exchange experiences and insight from their leadership journeys.
IGNITING THE SPARK OF PEOPLE POWER
In the early part of the 21st century, transparency is primarily achieved through leaks, whistleblowing, and hacking. These phenomena give us new information, but do not deliver change, which history tells us requires courage, conviction, passion, and motivation on the part of people who are willing to go the extra mile, push past the status quo and strive for something more. This has implications on perceptions of both corporate and public sector governance; from the point of view of ordinary citizens, the whole system appears corrupt.
With low levels of trust in both political and corporate leadership, how do we empower citizens to pursue real system change? How can we turn the cynicism that has been building over the past two decades into a common belief that any individual has the capacity to act to change things for the better?
16.45 - 18.00
The arrival of big data collection has led to manipulation and brought with it new opportunities for profiling people in terms of their needs, wants, and fears, using the information collected as a basis for developing campaign platforms designed to appeal to the masses. This reverse-engineering of political leadership is fundamentally changing the nature of politics. It’s a dynamic so forceful that politicians and political parties are losing the ability to be authentic in their convictions and to develop relationships with voters based on trust.
Driven by data collection providing new insights to campaigners, is the idealistic side of leadership being neutered by an over-reliance on digital voter-profiling? What techniques and approaches can be developed to manage, respond and mitigate the influence of big data on our democratic processes?
FIXING THE FLAWS OF THE HUMAN BODY
How genomics offers new horizons for healthcare
New gene editing techniques make it possible to correct errors in the genetic code that result in diseases like cystic fibrosis. Although these are new (and mostly
untested) tools, researchers in China have started to actually ‘fix’ flaws in human
embryos. This has huge potential for the thousands of rare diseases for which there is no cure or treatment. From implantable cybernetics to hacking the genome, human bodies are the new frontier for health breakthroughs. Digital innovations are improving clinical outcomes, human experiences and labour productivity.
- But what are the ethical implications of new health technologies?
- How do European policymakers regulate this personal space?
- How do we ensure equal access to the benefits of these innovations for all citizens?
A CONVERSATION WITH
BUYING INTO BLOCKCHAIN
Learning from Malta
With the recently launched and visionary ‘National Blockchain Strategy’, Malta is positioning itself on the frontline of innovation for building a burgeoning FinTech sector. But turning a vision into reality is a formidable challenge. We will examine the institutional ecosystem needed to develop and commercialise blockchain, fintech models and disruptive innovation.
14.00 - 15.00
TAKING ACTION ON HOUSING
Implementing an inclusive approach
Young Leaders will work together in groups to identify concrete ways to tackle the question of how to solve the housing problem faced by many European cities.
What are the key drivers of the housing crisis? How can affordable housing be made accessible to all? What level of responsibility should businesses play in shaping housing markets? What are the concrete actions that could be taken to improve the current shortage of affordable housing in the next 6-12 months?
15.00 - 16.00
Activities co-designed with Young Leaders
This session is an opportunity for Young Leaders to have their say on topics or activities they would particularly like to focus on during the seminar. Ideas for the session will be crowdsourced from the community of EYLs and alumni in advance of the seminar.
16.30 - 18.00
A SEAT AT THE TABLE
Empowering citizens across Europe
Increasingly an antidote to the breakdown of relationship and trust between citizens and governments is to trial different forms of citizens’ participation, engagement and direct democracy. Across the world and in Europe there are examples where citizens are being engaged in co-deciding budgets, urban planning, healthcare standards and even a constitution. While it’s still early to tell it appears that this can have a revitalising effect on the relationship and provide greater confidence and trust among citizens about how they are governed but more importantly to have a stake in how their livelihoods develop and to play a part in improving how this takes place.
1/ Do you think your vote matters?
2/ Do you believe your political representatives will follow through their promises?
3/ Would you want to be involved in decision making at local, national and European level?
Based on these questions, the session will aim to identify 3 key recommendations for ways to improve the direct participation of citizens in European democracies based on the input of local Valletta citizens, the European Young leaders and the voices and views of citizens across Europe through their engagement on the Debating Europe platform. These recommendations will also be translated into a series of live, pan-European debates on direct democracy and shared with EU decision makers in the lead up to the 2019 European elections.
This session follows a previous one organised in Warsaw with local organisations.
10.00 - 11.00
Connecting with EYLs and alumni
Over breakfast, 8 short conversations run in parallel with European Young Leaders on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this resourceful network.
MAKING EUROPE MATTER
If Europe didn’t exist…?
Europe has been the most successful peace project in history, a cooperative effort that has bestowed unprecedented social and economic benefits on its people. But the EU is in crisis. The European debate is confused, characterised by doubt, fear and disenchantment.
Yet Europeans continue to enjoy some of the greatest civil protections and social advantages of any region in the world, and whilst there is still much that can be done to improve the European project, it remains a success story worth telling. Europe is the only place in the world with a social model that offers all citizens education, healthcare, a minimum wage, a pension, annual leave, and equality between men and women.
But what if the EU had never been established? What if Europe - as we know it - were to no longer exist? What would be the impact on the everyday lives of Europeans? In the run up to the 2019 elections, what story would you tell to campaign for Europe?
Closing remarks and what’s next