Fifth Siena Conference on the Europe of the Future

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Anyone who wants to be the former leader’s heir must strive to not just complete his unfinished project but relaunch it with the same personal commitment, rigor and creativity.

 The European Union is navigating unchartered waters. And as for its own historical characteristics, it is doing so without not even having clear of whom is the skipper. We are living multiple crises that are questioning the very nature of the institution that was conceived by Europe’s fathers eighty years ago. Vision - the think tank which is convening the “Siena conference on the Europe of the future” together with the European University Institute and the University of Siena - is convinced that the fracture we are witness starts from technologies of which we have lost control: they are transforming the nature of all industries; they are reallocating information which is power and, thus, they require a change of the forms through which power is exercised and controlled; and, at the end, are producing a complexity that risks to paralyze action. It is a complexity that makes hard to manage all the big questions (escalating wars, climate change, artificial intelligence, ...) that will test and change not just Europe, but a world order conceived to govern a different, more stable century. This year conference will leverage also on the collaboration with the Institute for European Policy Making at the Bocconi University.

The results of the European Parliament elections further changed the picture. Yes, the elections were held with the old, obsolete format that has not been modified for 45 years (since the first election of the EP). We had once again 27 referenda on national governments with very little debate on what should be the future of the institutions that for a consistent part of the 450 million EU citizens is perceived as an alien.

Our understanding, however, is that these elections can be a turning point: they force the political parties (and probably even most of the member States) to move beyond ideologies (and predefined interests) so to find solutions to problems that will not wait. We may have a grosse coalition amongst positions that we understood to be irreconcilable and yet it is crucial that such a convergence will happen not just through compromises diluting even more the EU’s positions; but through a problem (setting) and solving method. So that everybody can contribute to really reshape the future of Europe. With a pragmatic, visionary method. And much less rhetoric.

Vision strategically decided to move the dates of the Siena Conference to September (12th to 15th September 2024 from June for the previous four editions) so that its next conference on the “Europe of the future” can use Vision’s method to “square the (political) circle”. The objective is to go beyond the logic of permanently looking for compromises and provide a problem-solving platform that may add value to all parties involved. After all, the SIENA conference has 3 already experimented for four editions the multi-partisan debate that EU institutions will need. In fact, one of the most distinctive feature of the Siena conference is that it has staged a debate about the five political foundations that act as think tank of the five largest European Political Parties: the Martens Institute for the European People Party; the Foundation for European Progressive Studies for the Pary of European Socialists; Green European Foundation for the European Green Parties the European Liberal Forum for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party; New Direction for the European Conservatives and Reformists.

They will all meet at the Certosa di Pontignano that is ideal for such a dialogue amongst different political, professional, generational, academic sides.

The following pages will define the objectives of the fifth Siena Conference, of each of the four “problem-solving groups” and of the plenary sessions; the key participants; the structure of the agenda; the scientific and media partners of the project; the method through which participants will elaborate the final document with the proposals emerged at the conference, the “Pontignano Paper”.

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Brilliant Partecipants

The 2024 edition will be chaired by an extraordinary pool of thinkers, professors and policy makers coming from very different political angles. They will – together with Vision and University of Siena – steer the conference towards the agenda setting. We expect to then scale up last year chair group to: Peter Hefele (Policy Director of Martens Institute, the Political Foundation of the European People Party), Sandro Gozi (MEP Renew Europe, Italy’s former State Secretary for European Affairs), Maria Joao Rodrigues (President of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and former Portuguese Minister of Employment), Kalypso Nicolaïdis (Professor at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford and Professor at the School of Transnational Governance, EUI), Raffaele Fitto (Italy’s Minister for European Policies and Vice President of New Direction), Taube Van Melkebeke (Policy Manager of Green European Foundation), John Hooper (Correspondent for Italy and the Vatican, The Economist)

Other key participants of the Conference are expected to be Manuel Barroso* (Former President of the European Commission), Romano Prodi (Former Prime Minister of Italy and Former President of the European Commission), Alexandra Geese* (MEP for the Green), Rob Roos (MEP for ECR), Irene Tinagli (MEP for PES), Giancarlo Giorgetti* (Italy’s Minister of Economy), Bill Emmott (Former Editor of The Economist), Guy Verhofstadt (MEP for Renew Europe and Former PM of Belgium), Nicola Maione (President MPS), Gregorio De Felice (Chief Economist Intesa Sanpaolo), Roberto Di Pietra (Rector University of Siena), Simone Borghesi (President European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and Vice Rector of University of Siena), Erik Jones (Director of Schumann Center at the European University Institute), Fabrizia Lapecorella (Deputy Secretary General OECD), Stefania Giannini (Deputy Secretary General at UNESCO).

More about the Siena Conference

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