Europe what's next

STATUS UPDATE April 21, 9:45 p.m. : The event is over. Reactions, photos, findings, conclusions and other relevant matters will be published on this site in the coming weeks. We will keep you informed.

This website follows up on the Europewhatsnext symposium that took place in Maastricht on April 20 and 21, 2024. During that weekend, 12 experts, each in their own field, gave their opinion and vision and debated and discussed various urgent issues of importance for the future of Europe. Below you will find the original intro of the 12 speakers.

Comments and articles from each symposium speaker and the respective topic can be posted on the NEWS pages: By the organization, speakers themselves and you as a reaction via the site on each NEWS ITEM. Of course you can also e-mail us at In a few days our program note takers will post their first summaries as NEWS ITEM. If you want to give a reaction yourself via this site, you can already do so under the NEWS ITEM ``The Europewhatsnext symposium`` . Please keep following this site in the coming months.

Ahead of the European elections (June 6 to 9, 2024), Europe is in the midst of a "perfect storm": Rising immigration, the biggest war on the continent since 1945 and a rise of populist politicians. Mass protests from the left and from the right against the establishment that are becoming increasingly militant, from farmers and from climate activists. Meanwhile, climate change is increasingly causing weather extremes. The energy transition demands a lot from people who already feel much uncertainty about the future because of economic uncertainty and political instability on Europe's external borders: In Russia, the Caucasus, in the Middle East and in Africa. All the while, Europe can no longer rely on American support. It is in the eye of this hurricane that the Europe What's Next symposium is taking place. It is all hands on deck so come and be inspired by the best experts and think with them about solutions for Europe! Register and help us connect Europe!

"The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their people prosperity and social development . The European states must constitute themselves into a federation ."

Jean Monnet

(main founder of the European idea)

          - Speakers and topics -

Geopolitical reflection on Europe on the world stage 

Haroon Sheikh argues that Europe must seek new alliances in the world and dare to look critically at itself. The West may be more united now, but according to China's state-run newspaper, it is also more isolated than ever. It is a good reason to think about the tilting world order. This shift means our worldview is going to be challenged. A better awareness of how the world is viewed in other cultures is a first starting point to bring about those necessary alliances, Sheikh said. He outlines what those alliances might be and how any blockages can be removed.


- Prof. Dr. Haroon Sheikh
- Saturday 10:45 a.m.


- Caroline de Gruyter
- Saturday 11:45 a.m.

Challenges for Europe, new strategies needed

NRC columnist and journalist Caroline de Gruyter writes about Europe and in her latest book ``Better It Doesn't Get Better`` examines the parallels between the vanished Habsburg Empire and the European Union. Does the dismantling of the Habsburg Empire after World War I contain lessons for the future of the European Union?

The Habsburgs ruled an empire in which many peoples of different nationalities lived, and they were mainly concerned with preserving what existed. The emperors and kings basically just fiddled around. Their solutions were often half-hearted. De Gruyter sees similarities with today's Europe, comes up with ideas to avoid the mistakes the Habsburgs made then in the modern Europe of the Union.

Northern Europe, Southern Europe, newcomers....How to work together ?

Ben Knapen is a Dutch historian, politician, journalist and administrator. In his lecture, Knapen will provide his analyses of current relations between the Northern and Southern European states, between the European Union and newcomers seeking membership, and between the European Union and bodies such as NATO. Knapen will take his audience through his global and visionary experiences, provoking discussion.


Ben Knaapen

- Dr. Ben Knapen
- Saturday 1:45 p.m.

Defense veto should be abolished

Joris Voorhoeve is still particularly active as a former defense minister. NATO is ungovernable due to VETO law . Trading speed and decision making are blocked or delayed by VETO law . Operational action is delayed !!! With this Europe cannot react fast enough to any threat or situation . Voorhoeve pleads for abolishing the VETO right for defense (NATO) and if that is not possible fast enough for bypassing this VETO blockade . Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg should be the first in Europe to take the lead, through a mutual agreement to speed up decision-making. Other larger countries like Germany, France and Italy will follow, enabling NATO to react operationally fast enough.


- Prof. Joris Voorhoeve
- Sunday 09.45

Professor Catherine E. de Vries is employed at

- Prof. Catherine E. de Vries
- Sunday 10.40

On migration and far-right Europe  

The far-right in Europe is clearly related to migration. Catherine de Vries explores how cause and effect are related and gives us insight into sometimes extreme far-rightism.

She analyzes the role corruption plays in migration and the consequences of Brussels migration policy. De Vries accurately puts her finger on the sore spot where necessary. Together with the audience, she tests possible solutions for their feasibility.

Lobbyism an corruption in Brussels

- Lisa Witteman
- Sunday 11:35 a.m.

Lise Witteman

Investigative journalist Lise Witteman (Follow the Money) talks about what goes wrong in European bureaucracy. She wrote a high-profile book about it: 'Sluiproute Brussel'. Her years of experience in the corridors gives us a picture of the damage caused by the abuses. More importantly, she gives us insight into insiders' solutions to this problem of lobbyism and corruption. She herself has also come up with solutions. Together with the audience, she will look for a fairer Europe and how Dutch politics can play a role in this.

Citizen participation in Europe

Antoaneta L. Dimitrova is professor of Comparative Governance at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs and the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs at Leiden University.

She has been studying European Union enlargement, decision-making and reform for more than 20 years. Her work is inspired by a commitment to the role of citizens in democracy. She is currently co-coordinator and Leiden team leader in the Horizon2020 EU-STRAT project: 'The EU and Eastern Partnership Countries: An Inside-out Analysis and Strategic Assessment' She outlines how greater citizen involvement in European states and the European Union will change the political playing field.


- Prof. Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova
- Saturday, 4:20 p.m.

Hanneke van Eijken

- Prof. Dr. Hanneke van Eijken
- Sunday 14.55

Migration and civil rights in Europe

Hanneke van Eijken is professor of the rule of law and democracy. She conducts research on the rule of law and democracy from the citizen's perspective in the stratified legal order. Hanneke is the first professor appointed to the Alex Brenninkmeijer Exchange Chair.

In her dissertation "European citizenship and the constitutionalization of the European Union" (Europa Law Publishing), Hanneke examined the role of European citizenship in the process of constitutionalization of the European Union. Her research topics are: European citizenship, division of powers, free movement, democracy and fundamental rights. From 2014 to 2017, Hanneke was involved in the multidisciplinary research project BEUCitizen, where she researched fundamental rights protection and EU citizenship. Hanneke was appointed as a member of the European Integration Committee (CEI) of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) in 2019.

How we work together in Europe on climate

Louise van Schaik is head of the EU & Global Affairs unit. She also coordinates Clingendael research on climate change and sustainable development. In her research, she has extensively analyzed EU performance in multilateral bodies, including on climate change, health and food standards. She has also published on related research areas such as EU foreign policy, EU climate change and energy policy, EU research policy, natural resource scarcity and green growth. Before joining Clingendael in 2006, she was a Research Fellow at CEPS, the Brussels-based think tank, for four years.

LouisevanSchaik 2

- Dr. Louise van Schaik
- Saturday, 4:20 p.m.

hanna van zanten around

- Prof. Hannah van Zanten
- Saturday 16.20

Which animals disappear from the food chain? How much becomes plant-based? What is grown? And what about our farmers?

Hannah van Zanten Interim chair holder and associate professor in the Wageningen University Farming Systems Ecology group and visiting professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. Hannah graduated cum laude from Wageningen University in 2009 with a master's degree in animal science. Her PhD project focused on the environmental benefits of using non-edible resources as animal feed. Since graduating cum laude for her PhD, she continued to work in this research area. With her team, she developed the Circular Food Systems (CiFoS) model, in which stakeholders can design and evaluate innovative but feasible food systems that safeguard human and planetary health. She received several personal grants and awards such as the NWO Innovation Impulse and the Global FoodShot prize. The EU wants to transition to a circular food system, where waste is minimized and waste products are recycled to minimize our impact on the planet. But what will we eat in a circular food system? What kinds of animals will we raise? And what crops will we grow?

How dangerous is the use of AI in translation software ? What are the new possibilities ?

Robert Praas trained in Rotterdam with internships in Stockholm, Singapore and Vienna. He now works at the Center for European Policy Studies, a think tank in Brussels. He will inform us about the latest challenges there: the development of Europe's own data and AI technologies and the impact - in terms of opportunities and risks presented by the current globally applied technologies.


robert praas3

- Robert Praas Msc
- Sunday 2:55 p.m.

Harry Stockman

- Harry Stokman
- Sunday 2:55 p.m.

Energy transition . How quickly can we do that? And what does direct current do for us?

In the newspaper you read about offshore wind farms. Solar panels provide direct voltage, but must be connected to the alternating voltage grid via an inverter. In the process, 5-10 percent of the energy goes into heat. The same applies to fuel cells that produce electricity from hydrogen, natural gas or green gas. Whereas in the past alternating current was the best way to bridge large distances, today people choose direct current of several hundred thousand volts (HVDC) for distances of hundreds of kilometers.

See interview with Harry   

Speaker lineup

These are our speakers. All out-of-the-box thinkers. All committed to a stronger and better Europe . All in their fields working towards thought-leader-ship . Check out their profiles and see what they stand for further on this site. Be there on April 20 and 21 and join them in a dialogue towards our common goal.