European Young Leaders: ’40 under 40′ – Athens Seminar More co-operation between Mediterranean Countries is needed

By invitation of Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, M.P., Chairperson of the Special Permanent Committee on Environmental Protection of the Hellenic Parliament, the fourth seminar in Friends of Europe and EuropaNova’s European Young Leaders: “40 under 40” programme took place in Athens, Greece. Dr. Avgerinopoulou, selected among the first group of European Young Leader in 2011-2012, welcomed the “40 under 40” group who met in her home-country from June 13-15 2013, highlighting the challenges and the arduous efforts of the Greek people to overcome the crisis and build a better life for future generations.

The European Young Leaders ’40 under 40’ programme, launched two years ago and led by the think-tanks EuropaNova and Friends of Europe, aims to promote a European identity and develop leadership by engaging 40 of the European Union’s brightest minds in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. Each year, forty young leaders, from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds and various European nationalities, are carefully selected to take part in a series of biannual 3-day meetings. The Young Leaders are asked to reflect upon the major problems confronting Europe and to generate innovative ideas that can provide lasting solutions. The European Young Leaders ‘40 under 40’ programme is a unique European leadership initiative that aims to create a new generation of opinion leaders shaping the future of our continent and joining forces to foster our decision-makers’ long-term vision.

New generation of European Young Leaders met in Athens and discussed about the economic future, as well as the overall European integration dynamic, using Greece as an example. Issues discussed at the seminar included democracy and fighting extremism, youth unemployment and prospects for a European “renewal”.

The seminar kicked off with an open discussion between the Young Leaders and the former Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. Building a strong post-crisis Europe will be contingent on fostering unity in union, Avramopoulos said, adding that “we must get away from our fatalist analysis of our situation and offer hope, direction, and a cohesive narrative to younger generations of Europeans.”

Dr. Avgerinopoulou addressed the issue of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, as a way of positive cooperation between EU Member States, African and Middle East countries. In her speech Dr. Avgerinopoulou said that the EU should devote more funds and expertise in order to further support neighboring countries efforts in achieving environmental and energy goals. She also emphasized on the importance of European Young Leaders and the new generation of Europeans as a whole in developing and promoting a sustainable, inclusive economic model for the region and the world.

At the panel discussions Guillaume Klossa, President of EuropaNova, and Giles Merritt Secretary General of Friends of Europe made the opening remarks, while Ioannis Karkalis, Special Advisor to the Director of the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) welcomed the “40 under 40” to the Sounion installations of (EPLO). Assia BenSalah Alaoui, Ambassador at Large of King Mohamed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, Dawood Azami, Senior Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service and Souad Mekhennet, Journalist for The New York Times, ZDF and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung were among the speakers of the seminar.

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