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Policy Network's Third Annual Spring Retreat

  • Date(s)
    11 March 2005
  • Location
    Warren House

The third Policy Network Annual Spring Retreat brought together over 120 leading politicians, intellectuals and policy-makers from Europe's centre-left political parties for a two-day brainstorming and strategy session at Warren House, UK.

Joining the discussions are Giuliano Amato, Wouter Bos, Kemal Derviş, Anthony Giddens, Elisabeth Guigou, Pascal Lamy, Mike Moore, Franscesco Rutelli, Martin Schulz, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Tibor Szanyi. The meeting is hosted by Peter Mandelson, Honorary Chair of Policy Network.

The 2005 retreat took place only three weeks after the resounding victory of the Portuguese Socialist Party, paving the way for the implementation of bold structural reforms envisaged by Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his government. Inspired by this success, the opening panel assessed the current state of social-democratic political parties and discussing winning strategies for the future.

The debates continued during three breakout sessions. For each of these sessions private discussion papers were prepared by: Philippe Schmitter, Professorial Fellow at the European University Institute, on the necessity of democratic renewal; Kemal Derviş, Turkish Member of Parliament and former Vice-President of the World Bank on development policies and the Millennium Goals; and Jean-Philippe Cotis, chief economist and head of the economics department at the OECD, on the challenges of demographics.

The issue of development played a central role during this weekend’s discussions. Policy Network is building momentum ahead of the next G8 meeting and a regional Progressive Governance Conference in mid-July.

Setting out the ambitions for 2005, Peter Mandelson argued: We must use the combined power of the European Union to put trade at the service of development.

Writing in an edition of Progressive Politics, Valerie Amos, former British Secretary of State for International Development, adds that: There is no contradiction between development policies and policies that safeguard security and stability.

The retreat marked the mid-point in the preparation of the next Progressive Governance Summit to be held in South Africa in autumn 2005. At the 2004 Budapest Summit the heads of governments commissioned Policy Network to set up joint studies on extending social justice in a globalised world, equipping people for change and enhancing engagement between citizen and state. In the presence of the sherpas at Warren House, Policy Network is presenting its plan of action for the forthcoming six months, and preparing a series of briefing papers that will form the basis for discussions.

Cooperation between the centre-left of different countries has never been more important. We have much to learn from each other’s successes and failures. Reinforcing the collaboration with Democrats in the US is therefore one priority for 2005 and following on from Warren House, Policy Network will organise with its American partners a conference with thinkers and politicians of the US centre-left in Washington DC this June.

With crucial elections looming in the UK, Germany and Italy as well as nine national referenda on the European Constitutional Treaty, the meeting came at a critical juncture for the centre-left.

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