On Friday 29 September 2017, the Secretary-General of International IDEA, Mr Yves Leterme, travelled to Sopot, Poland, in order to participate in a panel discussion at the yearly European Forum for New Ideas.
The European Forum for New Ideas (EFNI) is an international discussion meeting, focusing on the future of Europe and its economy, and has been organized every year since 2011. This year´s edition ran from 27-29 September, and was organized on the theme of “Globalism, Bilateralism, Economic Patriotism? Challenges for Societies and Business.”
At the EFNI, the Secretary-General participated in a panel of former European presidents and prime ministers, entitled “the Future of Europe”. Among the many high-level participants were Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Jerzy Buzek, former Prime Minister of Poland, and Atifete Jahjaga, former President of Kosovo. The panel was moderated by Polish journalist Tomasz Lis, Editor in Chief of Newsweek Polska.
During the panel discussion, International IDEA´s Secretary-General stressed the importance of maintaining, and strengthening, the EU´s democratic character if the Union is to survive. The EU and its member states face various challenges, among which terrorism, migration, economic stagnation and populism are just a few. These challenges, the Secretary-General noted, have various causes and have made people doubt the value of democracy, while a lack of democracy has exacerbated some of them. For Europe to survive in the future, Mr Leterme stressed, the EU therefore not only has to develop adequate policies that address people´s needs and fears, but it has to also invest in inclusive democratic reform, so that the essential connection with citizens can be re-established, and people´s trust and confidence in democracy can be restored.