On the occasion of the third European Ideas Network Summer University and the first European Ideas Fair we, a group of European think tanks and foundations, came together in Berlin upon the invitation of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to discuss possibilities of co-operation and joint action to assist the parties of the centre-right in the European Union in the policy making process.
We agree that European politics becomes more and more domestic politics. Therefore, political thinking about the future of Europe, the development of visions and the formulation of long-term political strategies and solutions require a transnational European perspective. In order to meet this challenge and to shape a European debate on common political issues, the political think tanks and foundations decided to prepare a platform of structured co-operation associated with the European Ideas Network.
The challenges ahead range from definition of a common European identity to specific economic and social questions and new strategies in security policy. We are convinced that a close co-operation of our think tanks will provide a useful basis for addressing these challenges. Closer co-operation will be achieved through definition of common positions and interests, establishment of a regular and structured exchange of information and ideas, as well as through establishment of common working groups and joint projects.
Our joint task is to define problems, provide scenarios and develop policy options which are far-sighted and realistic. Our added value as think tanks enables us to discuss these definitions, scenarios and options with political decision makers, at a very early stage.
While our countries share many challenges, they are facing them in different levels of intensity and at different stages. Our transnational and interdisciplinary perspective will enable us to work with a best practice approach in which model solutions, wherever applicable, may be advertised for countries still in search of a solution, or even a suitable definition of the problem.
We have identified five sectors on which we will co-operate in a structured manner:
Common Values and Civil Society: Common values are the basis of common interests. They make it possible for the European countries to have similar views and to act together. Common values and the traditions of freedom, liberalism and democracy have facilitated the building of the present-day Europe. But common values should not be taken for granted. They are to be defined, invigorated and renewed. Only the expanding and strengthening of democracy and dialogue among the European nations and states, cultures and civilisations can ensure stability on the continent. This is the ground on which civil (and citizen) societies can flourish and develop.
Demographic Change and immigration: The ageing of our societies and the ensuing problems for innovation, pension systems and growth are well known challenges. Policies to enhance birth rates, to improve the situation of families and to reconsider smart migration policies are needed. But the flow of migration into our countries, which has been a fact for decades, and which is indispensable to economic growth contains numerous political, economic and social challenges. Selective approaches on immigration, better ways of integration and specific educational and social policies directed at immigrant communities are therefore needed.
Education and Human Capital: The future of Europe depends on the skills of its peoples. Therefore, education, training and learning are at the top of the European Union's economic and social agenda. With the “dot.com boom” and bust of the 90s behind us, we can now take a closer, more realistic, and more measured look at Europe’s Human Capital of today and tomorrow. The core question in this respect is how we increase individual responsibility through the education systems in order to build up a European knowledge society that can cope with the challenges of the 21st century.
Economic Reform and Competitiveness: The knowledge society is also at the heart of the strategy agreed at the Lisbon Summit - to make Europe a global economic front-runner by the year 2010. Under the conditions of globalisation, the challenges in many European countries are similar: businesses have to be more competitive, innovative and dynamic. On the other hand, the principles of social market economy must not be neglected. To reduce unemployment, poverty, exclusion and marginalization still have to be the aim of socially responsible economies. To overcome stagnation and to give the European economy fresh impulses, courageous reforms and a strong political will are required, along with common transnational strategies and endeavours.
Transatlantic relations and international security: In the last 15 years, the world has changed dramatically. The collapse of the communist block in the years 1989/90, as well as the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 have brought new challenges in the realm of international security. No single states or ideological systems, but small bands of dedicated individuals, equipped with modern technology, are threatening the world order. Classical concepts of deterrence are no longer enough to safeguard our defence in this new situation. Thus, for creating a new and stable system of international security, we must revitalize the transatlantic relations, which were a guaranty for 50-years stability in Europe, and seek for new ways in which we can be supportive of each others’ endeavors.
- Common Values and Civil Society: Common values are the basis of common interests. They make it possible for the European countries to have similar views and to act together. Common values and the traditions of freedom, liberalism and democracy have facilitated the building of the present-day Europe. But common values should not be taken for granted. They are to be defined, invigorated and renewed. Only the expanding and strengthening of democracy and dialogue among the European nations and states, cultures and civilisations can ensure stability on the continent. This is the ground on which civil (and citizen) societies can flourish and develop.
On each of these issues, we have created task forces that will meet and consult regularly, develop joint projects and organise experts’ seminars and conferences. The mid-term result of our joint effort should be a publication which addresses common visions, solutions and strategies with regard to the five topics mentioned above. This publication should be presented at the next European Ideas Fair in summer 2005.
- As our network develops, we will further discuss mechanisms and structures that will facilitate our co-operation. Our network is open to new ideas, new participants and new groups of partners and institutions that share our basic ideas and interests.
Austrian Institute for European Security Policy, Maria Enzersdorf-Südstadt
Azad – Center for Political Studies, Valletta
Centre d’Analyse Economique (CAE) / International Center for Research on Environmental Issues (ICREI), Aix-En-Provence
European Ideas Network, Brussels
European Policy Forum, London
Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Paris
Fondation Robert Schuman, Paris
Fondazione Magna Carta, Rome
Fondazione NovaResPublica, Milan
Fundación para el análisis y los estudios sociales (FAES)/PP (Foundation for Social Analysis and Studies of the PP), Madrid
Hanns Seidel Stiftung, Munich
Institute of Democratic Politics, Vilnius
Jozsef Antall Foundation, Budapest
Liberálně-konzervativní akademie CEVRO (Liberal Conservative Academy), Prague
Natolin European Centre, Warsaw
Politische Akademie der ÖVP (Political Academy of the Austrian People’s Party), Vienna
Friedrich-von-Hayek-Stiftung und Stiftung für Ordnungspolitik, Freiburg
Society, Politics, Communication – Europe, Riga
Stiftung für Marktwirtschaft, Freiburg
Stockholm Network, London
Századvég Alapítvány (Foundation “Turn of the Century”), Budapest
Thinktank CIVITAS / KRDU Foundation, Stockholm
Walter Eucken Institut, Freiburg
Wetenschappelijk Instituut/CDA (Scientific Institute of the CDA), The Hague