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Progressive Generation Conference

  • Date(s)
    2 December 2005
  • Location
    Flemish Parliament in Brussels

Progressive Generation brought together around 100 young leaders from the worlds of politics, business, academia, civil society, the media and culture from all around Europe. 28 nationalities were represented, with a nearly balanced gender participation.

Coming just two weeks before the meeting of the European Council, the conference’s participants discussed the future of Europe from a pro-Europe, pro-reform perspective. They debated what should be done following the rejection of the Constitutional treaty by voters in France and the Netherlands, as well as key policy questions which European countries are facing.

Two radical, modernising politicians, Wouter Bos (Leader of the Dutch Labour Party) and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Leader of the Danish Social Democratic Party), set the scene for the debates in the plenary session on Friday 2nd December. The participants then split into four different working groups focusing on the integration conundrum, what after the Dutch and French referenda, public-private partnerships and the future of transatlantic relations.

The Saturday plenary session, dedicated to the future of progressive politics and chaired by Juan Moscoso del Prado, kicked off with an introduction by Professor Simon Hix from London School of Economics and Political Science, followed by a discussion with key panelists: Pascal Smet, Minister in Brussels regional government; Agnes Vadai, Hungarian Member of Parliament, and Olivier Ferrand, Secretary-General of the French think tank A Gauche en Europe. The participants then split into four new working groups, centred around the European Social Model, developments in the health care sector, the fight against terrorism, and the energy crisis.

During lunch, Policy Network had the pleasure of welcoming the UK Minister for Culture, David Lammy, who gave an inspirational speech about European common values. After four final break-out sessions, dealing with EU Enlargement, the New Technologies’ challenge, public transport, and international trade as a means to fight poverty. The participants gathered for a closing plenary debate on the way towards a common European identity. David Lammy, Giovanna Melandri, Italian Member of Parliament and former Minister for Culture, and Özgül Erdemli, Secretary General for International Relations of the Turkish ARI Movement, answered questions from the audience.

The Progressive Generation Conference was a huge success and we thank the speakers and participants for all their contributions during the plenary and working group sessions. Intended to act as a permanent network for the exchange of ideas and the formulation of new policy initiatives, and to help set a new direction for progressive politics in Europe over the next twenty-five years, the conference, held informally, clearly was a step further into the creation of such a progressive network.

Over the coming months Policy Network will take forward the intellectual and political content of the conference over the coming months, and is looking forward to organizing the next Progressive Generation event in the autumn of 2006.

At the first meeting of Progressive Generation, at Warren House, Surrey, on 11th and 12th March 2005, the founding members of the group launched a declaration on ‘Europe’s progressive future’, which can be found on the Policy Network website.

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