First Future Workshop within the scope of the Project “Alternative Europe!”

At the successful Kickoff Workshop of the “Alter­native Europe!” (ALTEU!) project, held in April of this year at the European Academy Otzen­hausen (EAO), seven working groups worked on visions for the future of various policy areas of the European Union. At the end of the workshop the following working groups met in constituent sessions, serving as the basic framework for the ALTEU! Project:

1. WG Inclusion
2. WG European Identity
3. WG Sustainable Economy
4. WG Foreign Policy
5. WG Digital Europe

Moreover, two working groups considered more general cross-sectional questions relevant to all of the other thematic areas:

6. WG Finality
7. Dissem­i­nation Group

Since then the partic­i­pants have been working on their visions and concrete papers regarding their respective policy fields and problems sets as part of their WGs. As part of this initiative, the working groups were expanded to include further members, coming from both academia and civil society. They are working towards the common goal of writing papers with visions for the future and concrete recom­men­da­tions for the individual working areas through an integrative process over the course of the year, with these in turn serving as the basis for devel­oping a common manifesto regarding the Future of Europe. This manifesto will be publicly presented and discussed at a concluding conference in November. The WGs meet at regular intervals, either in person or via the Internet. Furthermore, they actively take part in events, bringing their expertise into discus­sions, as evidenced by the Finality WG in their partic­i­pation at the European Workshop 2017 of the Young European Feder­alists, by the Inclusion AG at an event at the European Parlia­mentary Forum with Norbert Spinrath, organised by the IEP together with the YEF and the parlia­men­tarians of EUD under the title “Who profits from the EU? Future models of a European social policy between solidarity and austerity”, and by the Foreign Policy WG in taking part in a workshop discussion on the Defence Union organised by the IEP and the parlia­mentary group of EUD.

As part of the first Future Workshop, held on 24–26 July, partic­i­pants of the ALTEU! project met once again at the EAO in order to discuss their visions for the Future of Europe and concrete recom­men­da­tions both within their individual WGs and together in plenary sessions. In these working sessions the groups discussed the current status of their respective works, formu­lated open questions and finally discussed these questions in plenary along with the first drafts of their papers and visions. In addition to discussing the contents of these drafts, the plenary session also considered questions about next steps for the project as a whole, keeping in mind the eventual goal of devel­oping a common manifesto. Finally, the partic­i­pants discussed creative concepts for publi­cizing the results of the project in order to reach a broad audience across politics, academia and the inter­ested public.

The partic­i­pants had the chance to discuss their ideas and visions for the future publicly at a podium discussion organised by the Institute for European Politics (IEP), the EAO and Europe Direct Saarbrücken on 25 July. A well-regarded panel discussed the topic “In which Europe do we want to live? Visions for the Future of Europe” in the Saarbrücken Rathaussaal with an audience of over 100 visitors. After an intro­duction by Arno Krause, honorary chairman of the Kuratorium of the ASKO EUROPA-STIFTUNG, and Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp, Director of the IEP, the panel, consisting of Jo Leinen, president of European Movement Inter­na­tional (EMI), and Doris Pack MEP a.D. discussed the perspective of practi­tioners with Prof. Dr.r. Gabriele Clemens, professor of European integration history at the University of Hamburg, Benjamin Zeeb, CEO of the Project for Democ­ratic Union in Munich, and Manuel Gath, federal chairman of the Young European Feder­alists, chron­i­cling the devel­opment and current status of and future visions for European integration. According to Prof. Dr. Clemens, the current “muddling through” must be replaced by a new discussion about a goal for European integration. From this, the other panelists considered how a European feder­ation could look like, and how the EU can become more capable and more democ­ra­t­i­cally shaped. The discussion was moderated by Sabine Wachs from Saarland Radio, and garnered consid­erable interest and attention both on social media and in print media.

On 12 August, a second Future Workshop was held at Polis180 as part of the “Alter­native Europe!” project, at which the European Identity and Finality WGs had the oppor­tunity to discuss their work and questions with a wider circle.

The Future Workshop is part of the “Alter­native Europe!” project, sponsored by the EAO, the Federal Foreign Office and the European Commission and conducted by the IEP together with the Junges Europawis­senschaftliches Netzwerk (JEN) of the Europawis­senschaftliches Netzwerk Deutschland (END) and the EAO in close cooper­ation with Polis180 and the Young European Feder­alists (YEF). Further cooper­ative partners include ECSA-Germany (AEI), the Centre Inter­na­tional de Formation Européenne (CIFE), European Horizons, the “TruLies” project, the University of Hamburg and the University of Hildesheim.

Authors: Steffen Jäger and Richard Steinberg IEP