Survey on European Dreams for the Future of Europe

In partnership with Policy Solutions, Hungary

The founders of the European project were dreamers. They dreamed of a united Europe: a continent of peace, solidarity and shared prosperity. A Europe without borders and divisions that celebrates the continent’s incredible diversity. A Europe evolving towards an ever closer union, inspired by the notion that Europe will always be stronger together.

Do Europeans today share the founders’ dream?

What is their view in an era where this dream is portrayed as a nightmare by eurosceptics and ultra-nationalist groups? During a time when the United Kingdom has left the European Union whilst solving big challenges from climate change to migration demands more - not less - cooperation?

What are the hopes and dreams of everyday Europeans in this complex and rapidly changing world? For themselves and their families. For their own countries and for the Union as a whole?

Together, FEPS and Policy Solutions set to find out with this landmark survey covering the 14 most populous Member States. Our research defines the European dream with clarion insights for all those engaged in tackling Europe’s most pressing challenges.

As policymakers debate the Future of Europe - hoping to make the Union more responsive to the views and needs of citizens - this research is especially timely.

Democracy works best when everyone is heard. This survey shares the people’s voice. We all need to hear it.

Report: European Dream

Event: launch of the European Dream Report

Europe is confronted with an unprecedented global health crisis. It is already clear that the human and economic cost of this COVID-19 outbreak will be massive. European institutions as well as some member states have promptly put forward some measures that clearly signal the need of a strong public-led strategy for a fast recovery of the European people and economy. 

In this moment, policy-making requires support and ideas to design further responses that can meet the scale of the problem. FEPS contributes to this reflection with policy ideas, analysis of the different proposals and open reflections with the new series of FEPS COVID Response Papers and the FEPS COVID Response Webinar, which you can find below.

FEPS COVID Response Papers

#4 FEPS COVID Response Paper: Coronavirus: navigating a new storm with an old boat? By Estrella Durá Ferrandis and Irina de Sancho Alonso
How the fiscal and financial architecture of the EU can be changed in order to protect the rights of citizens and the social welfare state in situations of economic crisisThis paper analyses how the financial reforms undertaken by the EU after the 2008 crisis have legally and financially limited the State in its ability to intervene in many areas as well as raising barriers to its protective role.It explores how the macroeconomic and financial architecture that was implemented subsequently placed the financial system and macroeconomic stability on the highest pedestal of European objectives, relegating the rest of the social objectives provided for in the Treaties of the Union to a second category of importance, always subordinated to the achievement of the former.

#3 FEPS COVID Response Paper: Rebuilding after the corona crisis. By Lodewijk Asscher
The Leader of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), explains how the global health crisis, which metastasised in an economic and social crisis, illustrates a crucial point: the era where the market was king, the individual the solution, and the state the problem is bankrupt, both technically and morally. To avoid that in this crisis, we again sacrifice the most vulnerable and mortgage our future, he considers it is high time to rein in shareholder-capitalism, whilst favouring cooperation over competition when rebuilding after the crisis.

#2 FEPS COVID Response Paper: SURE: A quick fix to be welcomed in the search for long-term solutions. By Francesco Corty, Amandine Crespy
On 1st April, European Commission President von der Leyen announced the proposal to create a European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE). This instrument is to provide loans-based financial support to member states facing a sudden increase in public expenditure due to their quest to preserve employment. In this policy brief, the authors argue that SURE is a timely and welcome instrument to support member states as they address the short-term challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.

 #1 FEPS COVID Response Paper: Debt Monetization and EU Recovery Bonds. By Alberto Botta, Alberto Russo, Eugenio Caverzasi
This policy insight highlights some peculiar characteristics, from an economic point of view, of the current Covid-19 crisis. It looks at its exogenous nature with respect to Eurozone countries, as well as at the complex mix of supply and demand shocks it entails. Given these features, the authors suggest two intertwined policy measures in order to tackle the emergency phase of the crisis and the subsequent recovery. 

FEPS COVID Response Webinars

#2 FEPS COVID Response Webinar: EU Spending that Empowers: for an inclusive and more resilient Europe
This public online event was the occasion to discuss how government spending targeted to social outcomes can play a role in the recovery strategy from the pandemic. It was an opportunity to reflect on how a social investment approach could play a role in the reconstruction of European welfare systems and how it can find its place in the next budget of the European Union. Watch the webinar

Speakers:  EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit,  Professor Anton Hemerijck (European University Institute), FEPS Secretary General László Andor, Lieve Fransen (Director of Europa Insights), MEP Irene Tinagli (Chair of ECON EP Committe)

#1 FEPS COVID Response webinar: Is Europe SURE?

The global financial crisis left us with a certainty: the EU is not well equipped with counter-cyclical measures that can promptly respond to negative shocks. Many influential voices have put forward proposals for a stabilisation function within the EU or the Euro area, nonetheless we have entered this new unexpected crisis without the policy tools we needed to offset it. Once again, European institutions have the difficult task now to design and implement new policy arrangements amidst the emergency. In this webinar the expert panel discussed one of the instruments proposed, the "Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency" (SURE), wich is one of the likely innovations brought to life thanks to the pandemic-induced political will. Watch the webinar

Speakers: Frank Vandenbroucke, University of Amsterdam, Theresa Kuhn, Co-Director of the Amsterdam Center for European Studies, Roel Beetsma, Member of the European Fiscal Board, Joan Burton, Former Minister of Social Protection of Ireland, László Andor, FEPS Secretary General

Read our collection of articles on #COVID19 outbreak in The Progressive Post

Listen to our FEPS Talks podcast episodes related to #COVID19 outbreak

With Istituto Affari Internazionali

This research project will firstly analyze the factors underpinning good governance in the Sahel, and secondly will consider how the quality of governance is influenced by and can affect the management of demographic changes, climate change and mobility.

After an overview of good governance practices in the Sahel, the first part of the project will investigate these dynamics through specific case studies and approaches. The first will analyze governance, climate change and security challenges in the Lake Chad Basin area. The second case study will focus on assessing the impact of climate change, mobility and demographic change on women and girls in the region. Then, the last working stream will investigate on demographic changes and mobility in Niger. Finally, the second part of the project will focus on the role of the EU and the foreign powers in the region.

The project foresees a number of activities including the publication of a volume, and the organisation of a series of outreach and dissemination activities. An international conference in Burkina Faso will develop policy recommendations addressed to different international actors. Further promotional activities will aim at the dissemination of these policy recommendations.

Ahead of the upcoming climate summit in New York in September FEPS together with its partners is setting up a steering committee in order to be able to reflect on and test ideas of guiding proposals to be presented on this topic.

The group will be chaired by Teresa Ribera, Minister for the ecological transition in Spain and will bring together expert policy advisers, political representatives, civil society activists, academics and other key stakeholders in the climate justice debate. 

10th -11th April - First meeting of the steering committee in Madrid

24th – 25th June - Second meeting in Brussels

20th September - Third and final meeting with high-level side event open to the public in New York

FEPS with the support of the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung New York office, Foundation Max van der Stoel, fundación Pablo Iglesias and the Environment and Development Resource Centre (EDRC).

Climate change is gaining more understanding and thus more prominence in worldwide debates. The Paris agreement brought international agreement to a clear objective. Since then the IPCC report published last autumn warned that there is a crucial twelve-year window of opportunity for action against global warming to be effective. Nevertheless influential actors still threaten to derail these agreements and negate the science of climate change.

In Europe we are witnessing social challenges in regards to climate change; the ‘gilets jaunes’ movement in France has brought about social unrest, based on inequalities but the introduction of a diesel tax was the catalyst. Indeed populists are now commandeering the issue and taking it off track; there is resistance to transition from declining industries such as coal, despite many people recognising that the industry is economically viable and is a major contributor to dangerously high levels of air pollution in cities. Many people in influential positions are already banking against climate issues, favouring a narrative of jobs and economy for today, climate later. Worryingly these political movements are expected to achieve a good result in the European elections, changing the political landscape in Brussels and the agenda setting of the Union which has always been a key actor in climate policy.

Internationally the current Presidents of the USA and Brazil are case examples illustrating already the extent of the destruction that is possible, when bypassing the objectives of the Paris agreement; all to the detriment of the most vulnerable in society and those least able to oppose the policies. Moreover they are also usually the ones who have contributed least to climate change. Another pertinent example is the drying up of Lake Chad. There is still no common climate strategy in the region of Lake Chad or policies of how to allocate the water in the region.

Interestingly the World Economic Forum in Davos again this year recognised that climate risk is a top issue however the response to address this is insufficient.

Climate change is affecting our biodiversity, weather patterns, agriculture etc and is increasing security issues. Droughts, forest fires and flooding are becoming more common and it is wreaking havoc on our societies and our natural environment.

As Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed at the COP 24“Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it.” People are suffering the consequences of climate change already and many are calling for urgent action. Progressives need to be prepared and offer sound policies.

Opportunity for Progressives:

Defending social justice, fighting inequalities and caring for our common well-being are traditional progressive values. Despite having a decent record of implementing climate policies on paper compared to other political movements[1], there is still a lot that progressives could have done and still choose not to. They need to do more if they are to ensure that they are the most credible and well-placed movement able to harness the right narrative and bring about effective change for people and planet.

Climate Justice therefore is a key endeavour of our times and progressives need to be leading on this issue, even more so against the current civil society backdrop which is calling for more and urgent climate action. Consequently Progressives should be setting the agenda on this, the opportunity is New York, this September 2019.

Therefore FEPS, as the Progressive European foundation will hold a high-level conference on the fringe of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “UNited for Climate Justice” on 20th September 2019. In order to prepare for this a reflection group or steering committee will be brought together which will help identify a guiding set of proposals to be presented there.

Climate Justice:

The concept of climate justice frames climate change as a political and ethical issue.

It recognises that environmental injustice stems from social and economic injustices within our societies. The fact that it is the most fragile and vulnerable, the most marginalised and disadvantaged who are affected most by climate change and the least able to deal with its consequences. Furthermore it considers climate change is further exacerbating already existing inequalities. The idea is to consider the fairness of this often disproportionate impact of climate change on different sectors of our societies in both developed and developing parts of the world. It acknowledges that sustainable choices are not accessible to all equally.

Existing data proves there is a direct link that disasters affect the most fragile states most of all and fragility affects where disasters happen. There are limitations to the current political responses to rising climate instability and the need for systemic change if we are to truly address the issue.

The meaning and definition of climate justice has various strands and interpretations, with two main approaches; the main difference being about who bears the responsibility of polluting, i.e. the ‘industrialised north’ and developed or newly-developed countries, contrasting with who are the victims, i.e. the poor ‘global south’. Then the questions about burden-sharing, prevention and having effective capacities to adapt come into play. Whether the burden should be equal or whether a higher amount of responsibility should be accepted by those parties who have polluted more and are better equipped to deal with the challenges and whether they should provide more to help the global south to be better adapted.

There is also of course a legal element to this debate about legal justice and litigation on climate-related issues. This is something that is gaining much more ground in recent years with some positive examples and developments in the legal arena.

Whilst acknowledging these varying strands of climate justice theory this initiative will mainly focus on how to bring about key changes that will raise ambition, financing and help create long-term, solid and holistic ambition, this in responsibility-bearing states but also by empowering and enabling more capacities in an equal manner globally.

Focus of the initiative:

The substance of this initiative aims to bring about fresh-thinking into the core of this debate. The fundamental objective is to create a sound narrative of raising notably political ambition on climate action. The approach should be holistic and global-orientated with key policy proposals and guidelines as the output. It should be above-all, forward-looking. Yet it also needs to answer to the urgency of the current situation. Viable policies and alternatives should be brought forward and tested.

As a progressive political foundation FEPS can offer a space that enables different stakeholders to come together; academics, policy experts with civil society, political representatives and other various stakeholders.

The discussions should consider commitment and accountability, political leadership where momentum can come from, how to move from analysis to action and how to ensure sustained leadership. How to avoid talking and acting in silos and move to a multi-disciplinary approach and how to share the knowledge in a multidisciplinary approach. Having in mind that this is not intended to be about duplication or about creating new tools, it is about enhancing existing ones and using them better.

The summit itself will play a big role in keeping momentum alive; scaling-up ambition and continuing to work together to stop the climate issue being derailed. There will be some importance given to speaking with a common voice, with a common plan forward on the international stage in New York. Climate security may also be a large part of the discussions but it’s not yet clear what place it will have on the agenda at the September summit.

Initiative framework:

With the support of Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres FEPS was advised to set up an annual fringe event in the framework of the UN General Assembly, which takes place annually in New York in September. FEPS carried out its first initiative of this kind last year, 2018 and the topic was on migration. The steering committee and the proposals gave successful output in helping ensure the migration compact came about. This year and especially considering there will be an extraordinary summit for climate change on the 23rd September, FEPS decided to hold its annual UN fringe conference on the topic of climate change. The title will be “UNited for Climate Justice”. This will be done with the support of several partners; the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung New York, the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, Foundation Max van der Stoel, fundación Pablo Iglesias and the Environment and Development Resource Centre (EDRC).


[1] Prof. R Ladrech, 2017

with Istituto Affari Internazionali

The EUGS Watch project – launched by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and Istituto Affari Internazionali – aims at critically assessing how the goals included in the Strategy are translating into action.

Progress in the implementation of the five EUGS priorities (Security of our Union; State and Societal Resilience; An Integrated Approach to Conflicts and Crises; Cooperative Regional Orders; Global Governance for the 21st Century) and their related initiatives will be assessed quarterly through analyses at the institutional, political, and operational level.

The EUGS Watch issues will be published online both by IAI and FEPS. The project will end in the spring of 2019. A final policy paper with a list of policy recommendations in view of the next European Parliament election will be presented in a public conference to be held in Brussels.

Publications related:

Revamping CSDP Partnerships in the Shadow of Brexit. By Nicole Koenig

Supporting global governance: A rules-based approach for a post- liberal order? By Hylke Dijkstra

The EUGS and Russian hybrid warfare: effective implementation but insufficient resultsBy Maria Giulia Amadio Vicer

Toward the New Multiannual Financial Framework: Fuel for the EU Global Strategy and Development Cooperation? By Bernardo Venturi

The EU and NATO: A Partnership with a Glass Ceiling. By Nicole Koenig

Is the EU lost at sea? The EUGS and the implementation of a joined-up approach to migration. By Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré

The EU Global Strategy and the MENA Region: In Search of Resilience. By Andrea Dessì

Beyond the Civilian Compact: Why we need to talk about civilian capabilities. By Hylke Dijkstra

Happy Birthday to the EUGS? The EU and the Western Balkans two years on. By Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré

Security and Defence: A Glass Half Full. By Nicole Koenig

Implementing the integrated approach: Investing in other international organisations. By Hylke Dijkstra 

A joined-up Union in counterterrorism and public diplomacy: Let’s stay on the right track! By Lorenzo Vai