The 2018 Autumn Conference took place from 23 to 25 September in Brussels. The two-day event marked a key moment for the 15 members of the seventh generation who had the chance to exchange ideas on European identity, democratic values and equal opportunities while presenting the outcomes of their civic projects to policymakers and stakeholders.
The event was composed of a policy debate entitled “Let’s shape the Europe we want! Engaging citizens ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2019” which took place on the 24 September at the premises of the European Policy Centre (EPC). With less than a year to go until the European elections in 2019, the central issue of citizens’ trust and the legitimacy of the European institutions are once again taking centre stage. Institutionalised dialogues, online consultations and citizen panels are recent examples of attempts to include citizens in the debate on the future of Europe. In spite of this, there is a trend towards growing political disengagement and distrust in politics. The participants hence was invited to debate on how can real dialogue be fostered to increase political participation, especially among young people. The policy debate was the chance to discuss with Stephen Boucher, political author and Executive Director of the Fondation EurActiv, Aura Salla, Adviser for Communication and Outreach at EPSC, and Assya Kavrakova, Executive Director at ECAS.
On the second day, the participants met with Milosh Ristovski, Secretary General of JEF Europe, who provided a training on stakeholder mapping, fundraising and advocacy. The participants received useful advice on how to take their projects further.
At the same time, the 10 members of the Advisory Group met in parallel to share their experiences and discuss about the future of the programme. They explored new possibilities and discussed how to strengthen the inter-generational aspect of the network with representatives of the funding foundations of FutureLab Europe.
Finally, the Autumn Conference culminated with the evening event “Crossing identities – Diversity and inclusion in Europe”. The exhibition showcased the work of the project Crossed Paths of Europe, which explores questions of European identity as seen by locals and migrants. A panel debate with Katharina Bamberg, Junior Policy Officer for the European Migration and Diversity Programme at EPC, and a representative from the Plateforme citoyenne d’aide aux réfugiés opened the event. The evening served also as an occasion for FutureLab Europe participants to gather in an informal setting and celebrate the ending of the programme.