Full House at our Future of Europe Conference

The Future of Europe – The Europe of the Future? – International Conference
jointly hosted by Progressive Hungary Foundation, the European Greens and DiEM25

On Monday, 19 September 2016, Progressive Hungary Foundation, in co-operation with the European Greens and DiEM25, held an international full-day conference in Budapest, on the ship A38. The conference featured six round-table discussions with guests from all over Europe, more than 20 invited speakers, among them leading green and progressive politicians and thinkers of Europe, including Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece, founder of DiEM25, Philippe Lamberts, co-chair of the European Greens, MEP Benedek Jávor (Dialogue for Hungary, PM) as well as Zoltán Pogátsa, economist, associate professor, and co-founder of DiEM25.The full-day conference drew a full house, more than 250 guests during the day.

The nation state can no longer mitigate the consequences of the mistakes made at EU level. The real conflict is not between the EU and the nation states but “between the policies that serve the interests of and are accountable to the community, and the policies implemented by the corrupt elites and conducted against the interests of the community, both at EU and national level,” said MEP Benedek Jávor.

According to Dr. Zoltán Pogátsa, economist and associate professor at the University of West Hungary, co-founder of DiEM25, the unpopularity of the European Union is mainly due to the fact that it offers very little to its citizens, who do not want an abstract community but one that provides job, security, and sustainability, tangible benefits, such as the Schengen system or the student exchange programs.

Gábor Scheiring, chair of the Progressive Hungary Foundation, stated that the current situation in Hungary is remarkably similar to that in the last days of the Weimar Republic, during the early 1930s: crisis, the rise in precariousness, left-wing politics unable to adapt to the situation, and populist, illiberal forces gaining more and more ground. In spite of this, many have forgotten the lessons: the fragility of the guarantees of freedom and the fertile breeding ground for antidemocratic and illiberal politics due to the lack of social security, the decline of the middle class and the rise in unemployment, he said. “We can not only learn from that period of history but from Sweden where, in the meantime, the left-wing government was able to create a society that resisted all fascist pressure and maintained its strong democracy where everyone counts,” he added.

“Freedom means more than our right to turn to the Constitutional Court,” said  Tímea Szabó, co-chair at Dialogue for Hungary (PM). Freedom means that a cashier can say to his/her employer: “I won’t work 12 hours a day. I won’t let you exploit me.” This act of freedom is a condition for the exercise of any additional freedoms.