13. September 2011

24 European young professionals (aged between 20 and 30) visited Brussels from 18-24 September 2011 to take part in the first FutureLab Europe annual forum, which took place at the European Policy Centre.

The five days of the programme were divided into three themes. The Monday was a scene-setting day, including an introduction to ‘EU Brussels’ and a talk by Richard Corbett from the office of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. On Monday evening the head of the Commission’s spokespersons service, Koen Doens, was the after dinner speaker. Tuesday was dedicated to the euro crisis and the future of the Union and included a talk by Financial Times Associate Editor Wolfgang Münchau. Wednesday was about Europe and its neighbourhood, focusing on the Arab Spring. The highlight was a meeting with Commissioner Malmström in her office. On Thursday the group looked at the issue of climate change. Participants had a chance to listen to a speech by Commissioner Potocnik.

Friday was dedicated to a European Council simulation game, in which each of the participants represented an EU member state. Each participant had been allocated a EU member state prior to arrival in Brussels. On arrival, the group was handed a set of draft European Council conclusions, covering each of the main themes to be covered during the programme. The former Danish Permanent Representative to the EU and former Secretary-General of the Council, Poul Skytte Christoffersen, gave an introduction to the workings of the European Council. This was followed by a 3-hour Council session which resulted in a set of Council conclusions being adopted.

The participants will now attend and help organise follow-up activities in several European countries, including a ‘Debating Europe’ conference to be held in Brussels in the spring of 2012. They will also write posts for our blog.

Update (4 November 2011): three articles written by FutureLab Europe 2011 participants have been published on the European Voice, the Brussels weekly newspaper on EU affairs published by the Economist group.