European Young Leaders: ’40 under 40′ – Athens Seminar
The fourth seminar in Friends of Europe and EuropaNova’s European Young Leaders: ’40 under 40’ programme kicked off with an open discussion between the Young Leaders and Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Building a strong post-crisis Europe will be contingent on fostering unity in union, Avramopoulos said, adding that “we must get away from our fatalist analysis of our situation and offer hope, direction, and a cohesive narrative to younger generations of Europeans.”
The debate also focused on more immediate economic and social concerns. “The EU is 7% of the world’s population, yet has 25% of GDP and is responsible for 50% of the world’s social spending,” underlined Young Leader Max von Bismarck, Partner and CEO Europe of Skybridge Capital. “If we wish to maintain our social model for the future and avoid a lost generation of young people, we need targeted structural reforms aimed at improving our competitiveness,” he concluded.
Developing and using “soft power” is another important issue for Europe, said the Young Leaders. With Europe’s southern neighbourhood, including Africa, the Middle East and, more recently, Turkey facing political and social upheaval, the EU’s strategy towards the region should combine soft and hard power to address a wide spectrum of problems, noted Assia BenSalah Alaoui, Ambassador at Large of King Mohamed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco.
“In the southern Mediterranean region we are facing a deadlock because of lack of dialogue,” she added. “A broader approach to security should be adopted and shared between the EU’s member states, where now there is only a huge divergence.”
Etienne Davignon, former president of the Bilderberg Group, is president of ‘Friends of Europe’