Concluding the Second FutureLab Europe Annual Forum – reflections by Taavi Mikker

Posted on 21. September 2012

by Taavi Mikker

Copyright Juha Roininen
©Juha Roininen

The last day in the FutureLab Europe program in Brussels was mainly about giving a retrospect to the week, reflecting and analyzing the huge amount of ideas and information received during the week through the lectures and debates.

The morning started with two sessions where the first took briefly together the week, concluding on the topics discussed and giving a perspective on the wide range of problems and ideas that were discussed during the week. From the inspiration and the reflections from the first session a campaign plan for killing or saving Europe was created by FutureLab participants in the second morning session. After that the FutureLab group reflected upon the 1 day ‘job shadowing ‘we had on Wednesday.

Policy debate: conclusions of the week

According to the Josef Janning, outgoing EPC Director of Studies, the European Union will continue to muddle through. Often it is not the great ideas that move the world, but more the sustainable process itself may be the striving power and solution moving towards the solution and the future. What is the case in the current crisis is that many EU officials still try to sell the „muddling through” and the „great idea” of some magical solution for solving the crisis. Most of the steps and the big rocks in the process are represented as the „grand idea”, although they actually can be considered as the steps moving to the future. We looked at the topic through the 3 main terms and some ideas concerning these main terms through which the salvage of the EU topic can be more closely looked at – sovereignty, governance and legitimacy.

Campaign to save / kill Europe

The tasks were divided – to create a campaign to promote the saving of Europe and a campaign which purpose was to kill Europe. In one of the sessions of previous days, the consultant Simon Lewitt mentioned that Europe has too many campaigns that talk in the language of facts, rather than the way on emphasizing on emotions. Altogether our campaigns were emphasizing the emotions to penetrate a wider public.

Internship presentations and reflections

In general all the participant’s reflections for the internship/job shadowing day on Wednesday were rather positive, with some exceptions in some fields. Overall impression of the organisations was good. European Commission seemed to have motivating and dynamic organisational culture, in European Parliament employees seemed to have real global perspective, companies seemed to have open, flexible and layback atmosphere with many different nationalities, NGOs and think tanks had informal and friendly multicultural atmosphere. The participants would recommend internships and short stays in these kind of organisations, because it gives a chance to see how the institutions work and how is it arranged in daily bases for the real people who work there.

Commission plays mainly the structural role in Brussels policy and a lot of work is in close co-operation with Parliament. Parliament’s main role is to be the voice of the people from all the member states. Consultations companies’ main role in Brussels policy is to give necessary information for client’s favour, not public. Researchers and NGOs role is more analytical and related to academic field or campaigns or lobbying and influencing policy in that sense.

Commission’s attitude towards crisis was quite critical as their role is to work with the solutions, although the daily work must go on and the crisis cannot be solved at a glance. They have to look over their budgets and can’t travel that much anymore. Companies, NGOs and think tanks only have indirect influence to the crisis. Parliament faces the competition between conservative solutions and new options. All in all, the crisis was not the dominating topic in everyday work in none of the organisations.