Open Europe Blog

Advocates of ‘Out’ of the EU or the ‘Status Quo’, are fond of saying that EU reform is impossible – it suits their respective cases. They are wrong. Reform is possible, but will not happen on its own, reformers in the UK need to go out there and win allies and put forward solid thought-through proposals to make the EU more competitive and closer to voters.

This week Open Europe and the Fresh Start Project will attempt to do just that by hosting a ground-breaking conference for EU Reform in London.

It will be a landmark event – and the response to this conference has been absolutely amazing. A reminder to those who say there’s “no appetite” for reform in Europe that they may be speaking too soon. There will be 300 delegates from over 30 countries debating a full spectrum of ideas on how to achieve major reform in Europe. Keynote speakers include eight ministers from across the continent, leading business people, MPs, MEPs, former heads of state and a European Commissioner.

Here are some highlights:

  • A major contribution from a senior UK Minister.
  • Agnieszka Pomaska, Chair of the EU Affairs Committee in the Polish Parliament, and Priti Patel MP debating EU free movement and rules on access to benefits.
  • Rachida Dati MEP, Deputy President of the French UMP Party, asking if it’s time for a “realist revolution” in Europe.
  • Leading German MP Klaus-Peter Willsch and former EU Commissioner and Dutch minister Frits Bolkestein discussing if, and how, powers can flow back from the EU to its member states.
  • UK Europe Minister David Lidington and Irish Europe Minister Paschal Donohoe discussing the role of national parliaments with break-out sessions looking at whether national parliaments should be given veto rights over EU law.
  • Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Fisheries, explaining why EU reform is possible using the case of the EU’s fisheries policy.
  • Bruno Maçães, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, discussing how services liberalisation can be achieved in Europe.
  • Serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson and Dr Daniel Mitrenga of the German Association of Family Enterprises identifying ways to cut EU regulation.
  • UK Foreign Secretary William Hagueaddressing the “Reformers’ Reception”.
  • Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, and former Slovakian Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, drawing lessons on reform from Eastern and Central Europe.
  • Peter Norman, the Swedish Minister for Financial Markets, looking at how the single market can work for economic recovery.
  • Young reformers from across Europe setting out their ideas for change in the concluding “Future of Europe” panel.

What do we hope to achieve?One conference will not achieve #EUReform on its own, but ahead of a crucial year in Europe – with the European elections and the selection of a new European Commission – it’ll be a hugely important opportunity to really delve into the kind of policies that will achieve sweeping change in Europe. It’ls also be a key testing ground for what kind of reforms David Cameron might achieve ahead of a potential 2017 EU referendum.

We have provided a platform, now lets see what the delegates make of it…


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