Next Left Focus Group

FEPS Next Left Focus Group

The Next Left Focus Group is composed of 15 members, whose task is to research and deliberate on the core ideological questions that the progressive movement is facing. The focus has been on: Responding to our Changing Society, Our Values in a Changing World, A progressive socio-economic paradigm for Europe, Mobilizing for International Solidarity, Politicising Social Europe. The main findings are included in the volumes 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th of the FEPS Next Left Book Series.


> 14th-15th March (Barcelona, Spain): “Building Welfare Societies” was the overarching theme of the FEPS Next Left National Round Table and Focus Group meeting.


Following the deliberations on the “New Social Deal”, the FEPS Next Left Focus Group continued. In 2013 its attention was focused on the themes related with the progressive promise of a “Social Europe” – “For a New Social Consensus in Europe. A promise of jobs, welfare and empowerment. Within this framework, there were 4 FEPS Next Left Focus Group meetings organised, which followed a tradition of a debate on abstracts and subsequent stages’ peer review. What was new in this cycle was linking the Focus Group sessions with the National Round Tables. This allowed to ensure a greater coherence between the programme of the Round Tables and the research of the Focus Group on one hand, as also gave more possibilities to discuss and consequently disseminate the findings of the Next Left Research Programme. 

> 20th – 21st February (Vienna, Austria) 

When the Focus Group discussed abstracts presented by the respective members, as also decided upon the main research theme for the upcoming 12 months.

> 26th – 28th May (Lisbon, Portugal) 

The Focus Group meeting linked to the Round Table organised together with Respublica at the University of Lisbon. The FG enlarged thanks to joining of Dr. Matijaz Nahtigal.

> 29th September – 1st October (Warsaw, Poland) 

The Focus Group meeting linked to the Round Table organised together with Amicus Europae and Centrum im. Daszyńskiego (More details regarding this meeting can be found in the section “National Round Tables”). At this session, Dr. Carlo D’Ippoliti became a new member of the FG (moving from FEPS YAN). 

> 29th – 30th November 2013 (Vienna, Austria) 

The meeting was devoted to the final review of the draft papers, as also to the evaluation of the FG activities and a discussion regarding the planning for 2014. 


Next Left Focus Group “Reflection 20 years after Maastricht” 

Following the practice of the previous year, the FEPS Next Left Focus Group continued to work as a team of researchers. The number of members kept on growing, while at the same time the level of research and consequently expertise accelerated. The first meeting would be devoted to the presentation of abstracts, while at the following ones the subsequent drafts would be discussed. In the course of rounds, there was a growing feeling of the Focus Group becoming an intellectual community and also that meant that the peer reviews became sharper, more critical and hence more demanding from the authors. 

> 25th – 26th January (Vienna, Austria)
The meeting was held under the theme “Developing a progressive social discourse” and featured the presentations of the abstracts, which became base for the research of the respective members for this year. The identified research themes were: How progressive values can contribute to the redefinition of macroeconomic policies?; Attitudes to Social Justice in post-crisis Europe; Good work in globalised labour markets; The Next Social Contract – a new vision for European Society; Optimistic nature of social democracy; A New Social Europe for the Austerity Era and the role of social partnership)

> 14th – 15th May (Vienna, Austria)

The meeting was a continuation of the work started at the beginning of the year. This time members came with the first drafts of their respective articles, which they have written on the bases of abstract submitted in January. The session was devoted therefore to a thorough academic review. Furthermore, the group enlarged by 2 members (A. Bielskis, I. Urquizu). Additionally to the papers, there were 3 new abstracts to discuss: The main challenges of European social democracy. What happens when social solidarity erodes? A case study from the US.; The Challenges for the Left in the 21st century: the lessons of Marxism. There is also an exchange between FEPS Next Left and the PES Progressive Societies Initiative. 

>  15th – 16th October (Brussels, Belgium)
The Next Left Focus Group met for its third meeting in 2012 in Brussels. The meeting’s agenda was composed of a working dinner, which was devoted to a debate on PES Fundamental Programme process and introduced by Cleo Davies (PES Advisor), and the seminar, during which respective members presented their pre-final versions of papers and offered one another reviews. There were 3 new members joining the group: Dr. Nadia Carboni, Adriaan van Veldhuizen and Dhr. Monika Sie.

>  8th – 9th November (Berlin, Germany)
Within the framework of the FEPS Next Left Symposium, also the NL FG gathered. It enriched with accession of a new member – Dr. Ronny Mazzocchi. 
Furthermore, this year the FEPS Next Left Focus Group and the FEPS Next Left Working Group met together at the Next Left Symposium that was held in Berlin, Germany on 8th – 9th November thanks to hospitality of SPD. The event is described more in details below in the section devoted to the “High Level Seminars with Members”. 


At the beginning of the year, the new Focus Group was established. It met for the first time in February 2011 in Brussels. The meeting began with the presentation of the FEPS paper by A. Skrzypek, which was followed by the debate on the scope of research and the working methods. Through that a theme of “Modern translation of progressive values” was established as an overarching. The participants distributed the research questions among themselves and throughout the year carried on the work, meeting to present the subsequent stages of their papers’ and offering each other peer reviews. 

> Progressive Values in the 21st century (23rd February, 19th May, 14th September)

Involving 6 researchers from Europe and the US (P. Diamond, R. Bazillier, D. Tsarouhas, A. Skrzypek, E. Sundström and J. Halpin) as also several experts from PES and S&D Group with a result being the volume 4 of the “Next Left” Book series – “Progressive Values for the 21st century”

The new working method has proven to be most successful, allowing the FEPS Next Left Focus Group to advance both collectively, as also individually. Having given an opportunity for an extended debate on particular research questions, it offered also a chance to try to deepen analyses and search for more elaborated policy proposals / recommendations. The culmination of this cycle was a Literature Cafe at the PES Convention, where the FEPS Next Left Focus Group members had a chance to present their findings to the broader public, while launching the vol. 4 of the FEPS Next Left Book Series. The volume appeared most popular and observed a reprint, reaching a number of 2000 copies distributed. The findings of this cycle contributed to the deliberations within the PES Advisory Board on Fundamental Programme, as also shorter articles based on the research presented were reprinted by a number of FEPS Members. 


Following the approval of the first report “State of the European Left”, the work for 2010 on the pan-EU level was organised within the 4 segments. They corresponded with the segments identified as ones opening new avenues for interesting debates for the centre left in Europe. Each of them featured a seminar, to which FEPS and Renner Institut invited speakers and continued involving FEPS members by extending the invitation for their representatives to join as participants. Each of the delegates was encouraged to send in a written contribution as well. 

Responding to our Changing Society (16th March)
Themes: Future Challenges for Renovation, Trust in politics – can we win with populism?; Myths on core electorate, Challenge of representation and Mobilisation, Social democracy in e-democracy era. Speakers: Z. Gurmai, I. Ramos Vielba, E. Sundström, L. Bouvet, C. De Vries, C. Reuter, J. Worth.

Our Values in a Changing World (8th June)
Themes: Searching for ideological identity; Is equality principle fair?; Challenge of social justice; ensuring democracy. Speakers: L. Bardi, E. Jurado, S. Katwala, M. Sie. 

>  A progressive socio-economic paradigm for Europe (28th October)

Themes: Value of labour in a globalized world; The future of welfare state; A challenge of universalism; Equality in practice; A progressive socio-economic paradigm for Europe.

Speakers and first respondents: P. De Beer, D. Tsarouhas, E. Lennartsson, A. Ágh, P. Clancy, C. D’Ippolitti, R. Bazillier, C. Rivera, M. Mikko.

>  Mobilizing for International Solidarity (17th November)

Themes: Meaning of International Solidarity in a globalised world; Global governance in crisis; Thinking about development policies in a mid- and long term run; Realizing internationalism in a struggle for workers’ rights; Fighting for the international women cause. Speakers: J. Orback, P. Locatelli, C. Reuter, P. Diamond, G. Pirotta, K. Meijer, C. De Vries, C. Winkler, T. Noguera, T. Noonan, R. Bazillier, K. Borgnäs, E. Sundström.

What was interesting in this process is that it allowed establishing the core of the research team, which featured members reoccurring at the subsequent meetings and contributing to them with written reflections. In the course of the process, the methodology of the debate altered. It no longer featured regular presentation followed by Q&A session, but instead applied the mode of presentation followed by a review by two respondents and then a debate. This pave a way to the way the Focus Group functions since 2011, when it transformed into a research group based on a permanent membership. In 2010, the four enlisted meetings involved altogether more than 150 experts and resulting in over 50 papers, which became articles of the Next Left vol. 3


The work within the FEPS Next Left Research Programme was launched as a joint initiative of FEPS and Renner Institut. It was inaugurated with a call for papers, which was released on 10th July 2009 and invited all the FEPS members to join in a discussion on the consequences of the European Elections regarding possibilities, position and programme of social democracy within the new legislative term. 20 texts were received and they constituted the background for the first FEPS Next Left round table that was called to meet in September in Brussels. 

8th September (Brussels, Belgium) 

The inauguration meeting of the FEPS Next Left Research Programme. It gathered 27 participants, who nominated by the FEPS Member Foundations and coming from within the FEPS Working Group responded to the call for papers regarding the assessment of the outcomes of the European Elections. In the course of the debate, it became clear that the underpinning questions regarding the defeat are much deeper/broader and hence there is a great vacuum to realise a pan-European reflection regarding the future of social democracy. 

> 2nd December (Brussels, Belgium) 

The second meeting was scheduled to review the papers (as submitted for the vol. 1 of what then became the FEPS Next Left Book Series), as also to engage in an exchange with the representatives of the PES, S&D Group and PES Group in the Committee of Regions. The speakers’ list included that day Mercedes Bresso (President of the PES Group in Committee of the Regions) and Philip Cordery (PES Secretary General). The programme was divided into 3 panels (Political Agenda of Social Democracy, Organisational Challenge, Communicating progressive politics) to which a background was the Discussion Paper written by A. Skrzypek, including 5 Chapters and “10 suggestions for 2010” (which afterwards became the building blocks of the programme).

Both the meetings gathered academics, experts and politicians, who joined following open call that was sent to the member foundations of FEPS. The outcomes of those two first sessions can be summarised as: establishing the FEPS Next Left Research Programme, framing the initial research questions and building blocks in terms of activities’ plan, putting together the first volume of the Next Left Books and releasing the first report on the “State of the European left”. These all were presented at the first public meeting that took place at the fringe of the PES Congress in Prague in December 2009. 


Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, Chair of the FEPS Next Left Research Programme and former Chancellor of Austria

Dr. Rémi Bazillier, Assistant Professor at the University of Orléans and a research affiliate at the Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orléans (LEO-CNRS).  He is also member of the FEPS scientific council, France

Dr. Andrius Bielskis, Professor of Political Theory at Mykolas Romeris University, Director of the DEMOS Institute of Critical Thought Demos, Lithuania

Dr. Nadia Carboni, Lecturer in Public Administration at the Faculty of Political Science and in Business Organisation at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bologna, Italy

Dr. Patrick Diamond, senior research fellow at Policy Network and Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Dr. Carlo D’Ippoliti, Research Fellow in political economy at the Department of Statistics of "La Sapienza" University of Rome, Italy

Mathilde Guergoat-Lavière, Researcher at Centre d'Etudes de l'Emploi, Le Descartes I, France.

Dr. John Halpin, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, United States

Dr. Ronny Mazzocchi, Assistant Professor of Monetary Economics at the University of Trento, Italy

Dr. Matjaz Nahtigal, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Management at the University of Primorska Primorska University, Slovenia

Monika Sie, Director at the Wiardi Beckman Foundation, the Netherlands

Dr. Ania Skrzypek, FEPS Senior Research Fellow, Brussels

Dr. Dimitris Tsarouhas, Assistant Professor in European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair at the Department of International Relation at Bilkent University, Turkey

Dr. Ignacio Urquizu Sanchez, Assistant Professor in Sociology at Complutense University, Spain

Michael WeatherburnTeaching Officer at Imperial College of London.

Kristian Weise, Director of Cevea, Denmark  

Dr. Pascal Zwicky, Political Secretary for the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland