Press Releases 2011
Press Release

"EU Integration Forum" Brings Together Rising Political Decision Makers from Every EU Member State for the First Time to Discuss the Future of Europe

  • The Robert Bosch Stiftung launches a new, one-of-a-kind initiative to stimulate debate on key challenges facing the EU
  • "EU Integration Forum" being held on September 19th and 20th, 2011, in Essen, Germany; Journalists are invited to participate on opening day from 7:30 p.m. onwards

Stuttgart/Essen, September 16, 2011 - More than 100 of the EU’s young political decision makers will meet next week in Essen, Germany, to discuss the future of the EU. The "EU Integration Forum" was initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, with Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, acting as honorary spokesman, with the goal of creating an EU-wide network of young leaders and thinkers that are committed to shaping the future of the European Union. The initiative is one-of-a-kind in this form. On September 19th and 20th, the participants will discuss whether a new pact is needed between the European Union and its citizens - on the one hand, to strengthen the public’s own sense of responsibility for the European project, and on the other hand, to enhance the EU’s ability to address the issues of greatest concern to its citizens.

What do the people expect from the EU and how can this be translated into a vision which resonates with younger generations and offers them the hope of a better future? And what role should the different players in the EU’s unique system of multi-level governance play in the development of this new vision in order to bridge the oft-discussed gap between the EU and its citizens and turn the vision into a reality on the ground? These are the key questions which will be discussed by the young political decision makers from all levels of government in all 27 EU member countries.

The topic of this year’s forum reflects the mounting concern about public attitudes towards the EU. In particular, the euro crisis raises new questions about the European Union’s ability to respond effectively to the many challenges it faces. European citizens are becoming increasingly demanding of the EU and increasingly critical of its performance. Opinion polls suggest that while many people are confident the EU can address these challenges, there are also many people whose feeling toward the EU is indifferent at best, disillusioned at worst.

Since the Treaty of Lisbon took effect there have been many worrying signs that Europe’s politicians have forgotten the lessons learned during the painful ratification process - lessons about the need to "reconnect" the EU institutions with the citizens they exist to serve. This issue is particularly important for Europe’s younger generations, who face a far more uncertain future than their parents did. In addition, to many of them the relevance of the EU in today’s world - where peace between the nations of Europe and many of the benefits of EU membership are taken for granted - is not always clear.

Now more than ever, the European Union needs to demonstrate its relevance in the globalized world of the 21st century and develop a clear vision of its role. This raises the question, highlighted in the PROJECT EUROPE 2030 reflection group’s final report, of whether there is a need to develop a new pact between the EU and its citizens - the topic selected for this year’s forum.

The EU Integration Forum will be held on September 19th and 20th, 2011, at the Zeche Zollverein, Gelsenkirchener Straße 181, 45309 Essen. While the main conferences will be held under the Chatham House Rule, journalists are invited to participate on opening day from 7:30 p.m. onwards. Interviews with the forum’s participants can be arranged upon request.

Contact

Klaus Voßmeyer
Phone: +49 (0)711 46084-686