EU-US Young Leaders Seminar

From April 27 to April 29, 2022, six IMSISS students attended the fifth edition of the EU-U.S. Young Leaders Seminar in Brussels, Belgium. This event, organized by the European Union, the U.S. Department of State, and The German Marshall Fund of the United States, was designed to gather young leaders to discuss matters related to transatlantic relations. This year’s seminar particularly focused on “The Future of Democracy” and hosted 50 leaders, coming evenly from the United States and the European Union.

On the first day, participants were welcomed by Erica Lutes, Executive Director of the Fulbright Program in Brussels, Alexandre Polack, First Counsellor of the Political, Security & Development Section in the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, and Colin Scicluna, Head of Cabinet and Vice President for Democracy & Demography in the European Commission.

The second day constituted the core part of the event, with participants attending five different speaker panels and two breakout sessions. The topics of the discussions encompassed the current state of transatlantic democracy, rule of law compliance, the relationship between technology and democracy, the history of the Marshall plan, and the challenges faced by public institutions to build trust. Speakers came from various different institutions, including the European External Action Service, the CEU Democracy Institute, the College of Europe, the European Commission, the EU Institute for Security Studies, the Flemish Parliament and German Marshall Fund of the United States. This stimulating day culminated with a reception at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Mark Gitenstein.

The last day of the conference hosted conversations on the strengthening of democracy, inclusivity and transatlantic cooperation. Furthermore, it challenged young leaders to draft ‘The Marshall Plan 2.0.’ Participants were divided into three groups to write their proposals, which were later presented to a board of judges, ‘the sharks.’ The seminar concluded with an awards ceremony and the closing remarks of Elia Tello, Minister Counsellor for Public Affairs of the U.S. Mission to the EU, and Brian Glynn, Managing Director of the Americas in the European External Action Service.

Our students had the following to say about the event:

The EU-US Young Leaders Seminar was an incredible opportunity for IMSISS students. We were challenged by experts and young professionals alike to think critically about our role in the future of democracy, current and critical threats to our transatlantic partnerships, and lessons from monumental projects such as the Marshall Plan. I truly enjoyed networking with such an impressive group of people and reflecting on the existential questions that we must ask ourselves today if we are to ensure the longevity and integrity of our democratic systems.

Trent Tetterton, 23, IMSISS ’20-22 Cohort

Meeting all the young leaders during the seminar was an incredibly inspiring experience that gave me hope for the future. Everyone shared their thoughts and concerns while empowering others to do the same. I am beyond grateful for this new network of inspiring and kind people.

Esther Theisen, 24, IMSISS ’21-23 Cohort

I am thankful for the opportunity we had to attend the EU-US Young Leaders Seminar. It was an extremely rewarding week marked by insightful presentations and critical conversations on the current state and future of democracy. A highlight was meeting the incredible group of participants from across Europe and the United States.

Magdalena Breyer, 24, IMSISS ’20-22 Cohort

As an IMSISS student the EU-US Young Leaders Seminar was an incredible opportunity, especially for network building. Both the speakers and the other participants were very well-prepared and extremely insightful. As a whole, the entirety of the seminar was delightful and full of thought-provoking conversations.

Thomas Mongardini, 22, IMSISS ’21-23 Cohort

Democracy, resilience and inclusion are the words that summarize the power conversations taking place at the EU-U.S. Young Leaders Seminar. I am extremely honored to have been a part of such discussions and I feel incredibly empowered after having witnessed them. This event has surely been an invaluable source of inspiration and networking that will make a difference in my future career.

Camilla Carlesi, 23, IMSISS ’20-22 Cohort

The seminar of young EU-US leaders was a unique opportunity for a real and critical debate on the future of democracy. From my point of view, the combination of European and American talents and the well-formulated structure of the conference allowed us to share different points of view in an open and comfortable way. The speakers gave us more than enough knowledge and experiences to give free rein to our ideas and arguments. It has been a pleasure to share debate and build network with such auspicious students and speakers.

Miriam Hadjeres Montero, 21, IMSISS ’21-23 Cohort