Future of Freedom Annual Consultation: “Europe: The End of a Dream?
The current multiple crises with which Europe is confronted do warrant a fresh look at the various issues, norms and values that are important for liberals and libertarians. The first and foremost of the challenges is the refugee crisis, which has shaken the EU to its bones, one could say. Another one is certainly the unresolved financial crisis related to the common currency the EURO and the EURO zone, especially as far as the Greece debt crisis is concerned. The third one is the UK-referendum and the post-Brexit negotiations which are currently in limbo. And there is more: securing the outside borders, the common security and defence challenge, energy security, and the fight against terrorism to name only a few.
Especially in Eastern Europe, but not exclusive to it, the rise of nationalism, chauvinism and xenophobia is alarming to many. Populist political movements and parties have exploited the situation for their more and more shrill and extreme messages contravening the very basic ideals of open societies. The European model of an open society with open borders and freedom of movement is under threat.
It is in this light that the Regional Office for East and Southeast Europe of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (ESEE) has decided to hold our annual consultation on the “Future of Freedom” in Bucharest. This year’s theme is “Europe: The End of a Dream? How to Counter Europe’s Decline? How and in What Form Can Europe Thrive?”. The consultation brings together representatives from the various FNF partner organizations from civil society, think tanks and political parties from the region and beyond. The aims of the event are:
- to analyse and debate the causes and effects of current trends in Europe;
- to identify various liberal options as far as the future of the EU in particular and Europe in general are concerned; and
- to exchange experiences, share highlights and best practices, identify synergies and formulate common action and possible campaigns for a liberal Europe.
Bucharest, Romania was chosen as the venue for the second “Future of Freedom” consultation. The choice of the venue underlines the importance the Foundation attributes to Europe in general and one of three latest accession states in particular. Romania is the largest of those three states and the ninth biggest economy in the EU. Our choice acknowledges the great progress Romania has made in its economic, political and social development over the last decade.
Furthermore, FNF is currently commemorating its 25th anniversary in Romania. Therefore, the first evening of the event we will celebrate together with our international and Romanian guests a quarter of a century’s work for freedom with a “Freedom Speech” by Prof Dr Karl-Heinz Paqué, the Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
The second day will start with a Keynote speech about the future of Europe by Ján Oravec, a founding member of The F. A. Hayek Foundation (Slovakia) and its long term president. Afterwards, through an open space format and follow-up working groups, all participants can bring in those aspects of freedom they are passionate about as far as the future of Europe is concerned. The participatory “un-conferencing” methodology empowers all FNF partner organizations from the region and beyond to leave their imprint on the future of freedom.
Please find below the full version of the Concept Paper for FNF ESEE annual consultation.