Over a relatively short period, Europe and consequently the EU have been faced with a number of difficult situations, having lived through the financial and migration crises and Brexit. The direst of crises – the COVID-19 pandemic – still continues, affecting the entire world’s social, economic and political structure, Europe, the EU, its Member States, and every individual.
In these challenging years, the EU has been changing, adapting and transforming. It has adopted new measures, but its organization has remained the same. The latest health crisis caused by the pandemic has put the EU’s functioning to a critical test, both in Europe and at the global level: its responses are slowed down also as a result of the weakening trust in international law and international organizations, and at the same time, the world is observing an alluring illusion of the apparent greater efficiency of autocratic modes of governance.
Where – in this respect – do opportunities for the EU’s robust engagement at the global level, together with transatlantic and other like-minded democratic partners, lie?
How can we rise to the global challenges the free world is currently facing, including preparedness for crises – health, cyber or any other?
We will seek answers to these questions at the 16th edition of the Bled Strategic Forum, held on 1 and 2 September 2021.
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Cankarjeva cesta 4, 4260 Bled
Event report16th Bled Strategic Forum From 31 August to 2 September 2021 the 16th traditional annual Bled Strategic Forum took place in Bled, Slovenia. This year's main topic was the Future of Europe. Almost 500 attendees, around 190 speakers from EU institutions as well as from the EU member states and Western Balkans, ranging from 5 Presidents, 12 Prime Ministers, 10 Ministers for Foreign Affairs, 14 Ministers, 27 Representatives of International Organizations, academics, experts and other participants from different backgrounds debated on 26 topical panels. The broad array of panels included, inter alia, discussions on strategic topics related to contemporary challenges, from post-pandemic recovery, common values, fight against disinformation, green and digital transformation to engagement with citizens and to European defence, amongst other. A special attention of this year's BSF was given to the EU enlargement process with focus on further integration of the Western Balkans. The red line message of the panelists, was focused on a much-needed clear political signal of Western Balkans future prosperity within the European family: the region belongs to the EU family, enlargement should be viewed upon as EUs' paramount geopolitical decision. Since Slovenia also supports the inclusion of the Western Balkans representatives into Conference on the Future of Europe, political leaders of the region were invited to BSF and actively participated in discussions therein. Link to the summary of the event: https://bledstrategicforum.org/blog/bled-strategic-forum-2021-with-open-dialogue-on-the-future-of-europe/ A detailed conference report will be published on the website of the Bled Strategic Forum in the following month. Links to some specific debates: Leaders’ Panel – Future of Europe – Enlargement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdNfHg3txJ8&t=3s Former Leaders’ Panel – Future of Europe – To Stand and Withstand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYlLF0Ogn1s&t=15124s Post-epidemic Recovery: Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDEx803XfKw Future of Europe – Our Common Values: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO4EB__9gQI Future of Europe – Diversity and Consensus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV9zwjj9CMg All other debates are also available to watch on the BSF Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/BledStrategicForum Young Bled Strategic Forum Besides Bled Strategic Forum, Young Bled Strategic Forum (Young BSF) took place in Bled in the beginning of September. For the past decade, Young BSF has been bringing together young leaders aged between 18 and 35 years from all over the world to engage in lively discussions and develop innovative solutions to some of the most pressing global issues. It has become a unique meeting place for a diverse array of young leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers, thinkers and social activists, offering them a platform to share their visions, exchange ideas and connect. This year from August 29th 2021 until August 31st 202 young leader sonce again joined forces, shared their creativity and ideas in order to contribute their piece of the puzzle to the challenges opportunities of today and tomorrow. This year the Forum took place under the title Young Bled Strategic Forum 2021: Future of Europe - Youth at the centre. A group of 40 participants, trainers and organisers from the countries of Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States of America participated in an intensive programme of capacity building and exchange of ideas through workshops, panel discussions, networking and other interactive activities the Young BSF is known for. The Programme was prepared in close cooperation with an international group of trainers and experts, who have extensive experience in the field of European Union policy, regional cooperation and the perspective of the Western Balkans region, economy and employability, resilience and recovery (in the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic), climate change and green transformation, civil society engagement in decision making and other topics. Young BSF focused on the participation of young people in European affairs: it offered an introduction to the opportunities for their engagement (on the EU level), listing the opportunities for their engagement, it describe the problems they face and the tools they lack for effective participation in society, ranging from education, access to the labour market, social affairs and the possibility to influence the decision-makers. Most importantly, the discussions taking place within the Young BSF focused on how to address identified challenges and the solutions needed to guarantee that young Europeans truly are the future of Europe. Young participants contributed their voices and vision through the preparation of a joint declaration on the Future of Europe they desire, deserve and wish to help create, that will be further supported and promoted within the Conference on the Future of Europe and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The content of the declaration was submitted to the platform via ideas section. You can access more information regarding the YoungBSF here: https://bledstrategicforum.org/what-is-young-bsf/
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