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A Vision for Europe 2040

Bled Strategic Forum at the first ‘European Conclave’

It all began with a phone call from Guilaumme Klossa, writer, philosopher, as well as a strategic and political advisor, and a true friend of the Bled Strategic Forum, who conveyed a very simple message: “Peter, Europe is in a crisis, we have to do something”.

He was in the process of assembling a group of people (latter referred to as the Conclave Board), who would help him create a European Conclave. I had my doubts, since the preparations started very late, there were many intangibles, which played a significant role in the process, but I understood that the passion and commitment are there and, ultimately the drive to create something with a true potential to contribute to the discussions about our common future.

And thus, the Bled Strategic Forum became strategic partner of the Conclave. This weekend between 24 and 26 November 2023 we had the first European Conclave conference in Cascais, Portugal, under the auspices of the President of the Portuguese Republic.

Conclave is an inclusive process, it is neither a political gathering nor a think tank event.  It is a gathering of people from all aspects of the European society. Politicians joined in, so did the artists, professors, engineers, experts and members of civil society. Diversity makes us stronger, but the diversity of opinion also makes the whole exercise more tangible, more realistic as well as more innovative.

Yes, Europe is in a crisis, but Europe has always faced challenges and questions, which redefined its place in the geostrategic global arena. It’s true that the world is changing much more rapidly than in the past, with technological advances, emerging new powers, crumbling multilateral system, effects of climate change and regional instabilities, we are witnessing the birth of a new reality, which will be significantly different from everything we have known in the past. Crucial question is –where is Europe in all this, what can Europe offer in order to become a player and not just a playground for other global actors, as one of the participants of Conclave rightly pointed out? Do we understand the urgency of the moment; are we willing to take far-reaching strategic decisions, which will (re)define our place in the new global reality?

Throughout history, Europe was able to use its social and technological innovativeness in order to stay ahead of the game, in order to move society towards better standards of living and sustainable development, which brought about stability and peace on the continent. In retrospect, one can say, that the European Union, which emerged from the ashes of World War II is the most innovative political experiment in the history of humankind. It brought together nations who fought each other for centuries and created a large space of democracy, human rights, and rule of law. We must be proud of these achievements, but we also must be able to self-reflect, take lessons learned and start the process of the debate on the future of Europe.

This is why projects as Conclave are urgently needed – to inject momentum and bring ideas to the future of the Europe debate.

We held three days of intense discussions – we listened and we talked, we shared ideas and experiences, we took lessons learned to propose new innovative solutions for the main challenges the EU is facing today and tomorrow.

I do not wish to go into specifics, since the first report of the Conclave will be published shortly, but there is one thing that I need to mention and stress. It was truly remarkable to sit in the company of such passionate, smart, and dedicated Europeans, who took their time and came over the weekend to Portugal to share their ideas on how our common future should look like. I would like to thank them immensely. 

The process of Conclave continues. The ideas are already there, we will see each other next year in some other European country, with some other dedicated people, but with the same goal – to help contribute to the more sustainable, innovative, transparent, democratic, and resilient European Union.

Peter Grk

Secretary General of the Bled Strategic Forum

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