Plenary Session

Gabriella Civico, Georges Dassis, Federica Mogherini, Conny Reuter, Renate Weber, Matěj Šulc, Markos Angelos Xeni, Bervin Demir, Adam Nyman, Brikena Xhomaqi, Alberto Alemanno, Irini Ivoni Pari, Assya Kavrakova, Gerald Hensel, Evelyne Gebhardt, Jean-Eric Paquet

Workshop 1 - New technologies and transition: Challenges and opportunities in the future of work

Pavel Trantina, Vanessa Mulhall, Herwig Immervol, Nafsika Vrettaki

Workshop 2 - Rural-Urban dimensions: towards more territorial and social cohesion!

Brendan Burns, Eduardo Francés Conde, Robert Levesque, Klaus EHRLICH, Sofia Björnsson, Jose Enrique Garcilazo, Tom Jones, Gérard Peltre, Patrice Collignon

Workshop 3 - Challenging right-wing populism: The role of civic engagement, education and culture

Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ, Juana Bengoa, Duje Prkut, Katherine Heid, Yannik Stefani, Luca Scholz, Amjad Abo Huwaij, Marta Lempart, Clymene Christoforou

Workshop 4 - New technologies and transition: What role for civil society in a future of e-democracy ?

Elisa Lironi, Assya Kavrakova, Tsiavos Promodos, Imants Breidaks, Laurentiu Bunescu, Lex Paulson

Workshop 5 - Countering anti-European populist rhetoric: The use of frames in our communication

Ulrike Grassinger

Workshop 6 - Empowering civil society to act and grow in Europe

Kélig Puyet, Israel Butler, Carlotta Besozzi, Waltraud Heller, Lilit Poghosyan, Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans

Plenary Sessions - main programme

Gabriella Civico

Gabriella is originally from the UK and has lived in Spain and Portugal before moving to Belgium in 2010. She has a degree in Social Policy and Education from Surrey University (UK) and a Masters in Education in E-learning from the University of Hull (UK). Her professional background is in business and the Youth NGO Sector where she has worked as an administrator and also as a trainer and expert in both paid and voluntary capacities. Through her work in the youth field she was involved in the campaign to establish 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering. Gabriella has volunteered since childhood in a variety of fields including Youth Advocacy, International Development, Disability, Environment, Immigration, Human Rights, Sports etc. She has worked closely with the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) since July 2010 in her role as Project Manager for the EYV2011 Alliance until the end of the project in March 2012 when she became CEV Director.  Gabriella is a member of the "Civil Society Europe Steering Committee", the "EQF Advisory Group" (DG EMPL) and the "Horizon 2020 Protection And Security Advisory Group" (DG HOME), supporting and advocating for the role and value of volunteers and their organisations in Europe. 

Georges Dassis, EESC President 

Georges Dassis first joined the European Economic and Social Committee in 1981; he was elected President of the Workers' Group in 2008.

Prior to that, he was President of the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion of the EESC. In 1982, he became a member of the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). Since 1981, he represents the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) at the ETUC, the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Labour Office. He is a founding member of the Labour Institute of the GSEE and Secretary for International Relations.

On October 2015, Georges Dassis was elected President of the EESC.

Federica Mogherini

Federica Mogherini is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission since 1st November 2014.

She has been the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs from February to October 2014 and a Member of the Italian Parliament (Chamber of Deputies), where she was elected for the first time in 2008.

In her parliamentary capacity, she has been the Head of the Italian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and Vice-President of its Political Committee (2013-2014); member of the Italian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2008-2013); Secretary of the Defence Committee (2008-2013) and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Conny Reuter

Conny Reuter has been Secretary General of SOLIDAR since October 2006.

He is also serving as:

  • Co-Chair of Liaison Group of the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) since 2013
  • Co-founder and member of Steering Group of Civil Society Europe (CSE) since 2015
  • Co-founder and Board member of Social Service Europe (SSE) since 2012
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Workers Education Associations (IFWEA) since 2008

Before moving to Brussels, Conny worked in Paris and Berlin heading the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO) Department for School and Youth Exchanges (1998-2006), working at La Ligue de l’enseignement in Paris on European projects (1990-1998) and heading the liaison office of La Ligue in Germany working on Franco-German youth exchanges in professional and vocational training (1985-1990).

From April 2008 to April 2013 he served as President of the Social Platform, the platform of European Social NGOs.

He has extended experience in NGO networking, managing EU and international projects and events. He is specialized in social policies, education, lifelong learning and global justice issues.

Renate Weber, MEP

Back in the early 90's Renate Weber was one of the most notable voices in the Romanian civil society, fighting for human rights not only in her own country, but also abroad. She always used to say that "fighting for human rights is my duty, my day-to-day job". And so it was, and still is today. She was involved in a number of national and international non-profit organizations. She also served as a chairwoman of the Foundation for an Open Society - Romania (1998–2005, 2006–2007). In 2000, she was appointed as Ad-hoc judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She was a lecturer in international human rights law, constitutional law, minority rights and women's rights, at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, and at the University of Bucharest. Renate Weber is a graduate of the Bucharest University, Faculty of Law (1979) and has been a lawyer with the Bucharest Bar ever since. She was also a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Human Rights of Columbia University, New York. Since 2007, Renate Weber has been a Member of the European Parliament, belonging to the ALDE Group, and member in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations, the Employment Committee and the Sub-committee on Human Rights. Renate Weber was the first Eastern European MEP to lead an EU electoral observation mission, in 2008 in Bolivia. Since then, she had been the Head of several EU EOMs - in Bolivia (2009), Burundi (2010), Paraguay (2012) and Peru (2016).

Matěj Šulc

I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, I live here and currently I’m finishing my junior year at Anglicko-české gymnázium Amazon. My goal right now, besides graduating high school, is to study politics/international relations in Scandinavia. I have been to YEYS 2017 at the end of March and me and my partner Luke from the UK proposed an idea, which had been voted No. 1.

Markos Angelos Xeni

Markos Angelos Xeni was born and raised in Limassol, Cyprus. He is half Cypriot, half German, and fluent in three languages. He is attending The Grammar School, in Limassol. He participated in the 2017 edition of 'Your Europe, your say' where his proposals were voted to be one of the top suggestions made.

Bervin Demir

Bervin Demir is from London. She is a student of Chingford Foundation where she is studying Maths, Politics, English Literature and Spanish.

At the Civil Society Days, she will be representing her team from the 'Your Europe, your say' conference.

Her team suggested that social media should be used to increase political interest

Adam Nyman (Friends of Europe)

Adam is the Director and Co-founder of Debating Europe - www.debatingeurope.eu -  the online discussion platform designed to engage Europe’s citizens and policymakers in an ongoing conversation on the critical issues affecting our continent.

Debating Europe is based on a simple model: citizens speak, decision makers respond. It’s proved to be very popular: since launching in 2011, it’s built up a 2.7 million strong community of citizens from across Europe, to debate with its leaders, challenging “top-down” thinking with a “bottom-up” approach. A selection of their 100,000+ questions have been put to over 2,500 key policymaker and experts.


Brikena Xhomaqi

Brikena Xhomaqiis the current Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP). She graduated in Innovative Project Management at the Polytechnic University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and holds a professional Master Degree in Corporate Strategy and International Development and bachelor in Political Sciences. Originally from Albania, she has studied and lived in Italy, France and currently Belgium for the last twelve years. She is the former Head of Office of the European Students’ Union (ESU) and Director of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), in charge of overall management and responsible for EU funded project in particular focusing on the dissemination, impact and sustainability. A few of the most successful EU projects among others she was involved were SocialErasmus, Erasmus+ Impact Study and Financing of Student's Future. She was elected representative of the European Student’s Union. She has been the research team member and manager of multiple EU funded projects for both ESN, ESU and EUA related to learning mobility, higher education financing among others. She has an experience of more than 10 years in education and non-profit sector at local, national and international level. Passionate about education, institutional cooperation, civil society and mobility.

Alberto Alemanno

Alberto Alemanno is an academic, civic advocate and public interest lawyer. He’s currently Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris and Global Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Due to his commitment to bridge the gap between academic research and policy action, Alberto pioneered innovative forms of academic and civic engagement. Both his scholarship and public interest work on openness, transparency and civic engagement has considerably shaped EU institutional setting and practice. His MOOC Understanding Europe: Why It Matters and What It Can Offer You reached and empowered more than 100,000 participants across the EU and beyond. Its EU Public Interest Clinic trained dozens of public interest lawyers and served dozens of NGOs promoting the EU public interest. Today Alberto runs The Good Lobby, the first advocacy skill-sharing community aimed at connecting people with expertise with civil society organizations who need them in pursuit of the public interest.

Alberto’s new book, ‘Lobbying for Change: Find Your Voice to Create a Better Society’ (Iconbooks, 2017), provides a timely analysis and guide to levelling the democratic playing field by empowering ordinary citizens to speak up and inform policy decisions at local, national and international level.

Alberto has been named Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum where he leads the Public Leadership Initiative (committed to beautify politics by training a new generation of public leaders) and European Young Leader at Friends of Europe.

He regularly provides advice to a variety of NGOs and governments across the world as well as international organizations, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Health Organisation, on various aspects of European Union law, international regulatory cooperation, international trade and global health law as well as evidence-based policymaking.

Originally from Italy, Alberto is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the College of Europe and holds a PhD in International Law & Economics from Bocconi University.

Irini Ivoni PARI
She is Permanent Delegate of SEV-Hellenic Federation of Enterprises in Brussels, Member of the Committee of Permanent Delegates of BUSINESSEUROPE–Confederation of European Business and Member of the European Social Dialogue Committee since 1995. Member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 1998 in the Group I – Employers. Currently she is President of the European Citizens’ Initiative Sub-Committee, Coordinator and rapporteur of the Ad Hoc group on the future of the EESC, Member of the Bureau of the European Migration Forum and Member of the Social and Economic Sections as well as of the group on integration and immigration. She has been Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee responsible for Communication (2008-2010), Vice-President of the Employers’ Group (2006-2008), Vice-President of the Social Section (2004-2008) and President of the Immigration and Integration working group (2013-2015). She has worked as an Advisor in the European Commission at the Secretariat General and the Directorate General for Competition on State Aids (1988-1994). She studied Political Science and International Relations at University of Panteion in Athens and European Studies at Institut d’Etudes Européennes at ULB in Βrussels. Born in Kinshasa, she has two children.

Assya Kavrakova

Ms. Assya Kavrakova is the Director of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) - http://www.ecas.org/ - an international non-profit organization, based in Brussels, with a pan-European membership and 26 years of experience in EU citizens’ rights enforcement and civic participation in the EU decision-making process. She is also a member of the Stakeholder group of the REFIT Platform for Better Regulation.

Before joining ECAS, Ms. Kavrakova served as the Director of European Policies Program at the Open Society Institute (OSI-S) in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she was also leading the analytical and research activity of the European Policies Initiative. She personally authored the paper: “The Unfinished Business of the Fifth Enlargement Countries”. Assya Kavrakova has a Master’s degree in Law and another Master’s degree in European Studies. She has worked as a Public Policies and Outreach Director at the Democracy Network Program (DemNet) of the USAID. She was also the Executive Director of the Bulgarian branch of Transparency International. Assya Kavrakova is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow.  

Gerald Hensel

Gerald used to work in major German and global advertising and digital agencies for twenty years until he started a private initiative called #KeinGeldFürRechts (#NoMoneyFortheRight).

The initiative was targeted at major advertisers asking them whether they were aware that they pumped ad budgets into populist and extremist media.

Gerald left his employer at the end of 2016 to found his own NGO fearlessdemocracy.org. Fearlessdemocracy is a network of communication and digital experts who try to close the gap between the civil society's digital maturity and of its opponents.

Evelyne Gebhardt

Evelyne Gebhardt has been a Member of the European Parliament since her first election in 1994. She is the coordinator for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO). As member of the IMCO committee she was inter alia rapporteur for the Services Directive and is currently co-rapporteur for the Digital Single Market Act. Furthermore, she is a substitute member of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) as well as a member of the delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. She is also a substitute member of the delegation for relations with Mercosur.

Evelyne Gebhardt joined the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1975. She holds the position of deputy chairwoman of the SPD's national committee of Social Democratic Women (ASF). In 2008, she was appointed a member of the "Commission for the liberation of growth in France" by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She resigned from this post in 2010 as a reaction to the discrimination of Roma in France. Evelyne Gebhardt was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit ("Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande") in 1999 and was twice elected "European of the year" (2005, 2006).

Born on 19 January 1954 in Paris, she studied linguistics as well as politics and economics at the University Paris VII (Sorbonne Nouvelle) and at the Universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart. Since 1975, she is resident in Germany.

Jean-Eric Paquet

Jean-Eric Paquet began his career in the European Commission in 1993 in the Directorate-General for Transport, in the International Relations area, and later as assistant to the Transport Director General , Robert Coleman. In 1999 he joined the office of Mr Verheugen (Member of the European Commission in charge of enlargement). In 2002 he became the deputy head of office of M. Busquin, member of the European Commission in charge of Research policy. Mr Paquet was EU Ambassador in the Islamic republic of Mauritania between 2004 and 2007. He returned to transport in 2007 where he led the development of the Trans-European Transport Network policy. As Director for the "European Mobility Network" he was responsible for Europe's transport infrastructure policy and investment strategies, the single European rail area, inland waterways and port policy.

He joined DG Enlargement in November 2013 where he took over the Directorate in charge of relations with Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo. In January 2015 he became Director for Western Balkans, adding Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to his portfolio.

In November 2015 he was appointed Deputy Secretary General of the European Commission responsible for Better Regulation and Policy Coordination (economic governance, internal market and competitiveness, resource efficiency and employment, education and social policies).




Workshop 1 - New technologies and transition: Challenges and opportunities in the future of work

Pavel Trantina, EESC Member, President of the SOC section

Born in 1975 in České Budějovice, Czechoslovakia. Studied history and political science at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague. Worked as political analyst in the Office of the President of the Czech Republic (1996-2002), International Commissioner of Junak – Association of Scouts and Guides of the Czech Republic (mostly as a volunteer), Chairman of the Czech Council of Children and Youth (2004-2007) and Director of the Department of EU Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, responsible for the preparation of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council (2007-2009). Coordinator of recognition of non-formal education in the ESF funded project „Keys for life“ (2010-2011). Currently works as EU projects and relations manager in the Czech Council of Children and Youth and freelance in project management. Member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2006, specialized in youth issues, education, situation of young people at the labour market and volunteering. A volunteer for more than 20 years on different levels in several organisations. In 2010 he was a UNDP consultant of the Draft Law on volunteering in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Co-chair of the Working group on Legal Framework of Volunteering within the Alliance for the European Year of Volunteering 2011. Also, since 2010, a Coordinator of the Volunteering working group of the European Scout Region. Chair of the EESC Coordination Group for the EYV 2011. Since February 2013 the first President of the newly established European Alliance for Volunteering..


Vanessa Mulhall

Vanessa was born in July 1994 in Dublin Ireland. Vanessa is NYCI's international representative to the European youth forum and a member of the expert group on the future of work with YFJ. last  may she obtained her BA in Community and youth work at Maynooth University of which she hopes to return and study a master’s in rights and social policy this coming September. 

From a young age she has been involved in youth work as a participant and then a volunteer with Foróige which is a national youth Organisation in Ireland when she was 16 she completed a programme called the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) with Foróige she learned the skills and knowledge as to how to set up a mini company of which gave her income to support her through school. In 2013 I first got involved with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and YFJ as there was a call put out for youth unemployment conferences being held Paris there was also a focus on entrepreneurship during this event I had the opportunity to meet with Francois Hollande to share my story and experience as a young entrepreneur.

I am part of Young voices which is Ireland's version of structured dialogue we have been working on a number of topics from career guidance in school to putting together a youth check which is an impacted assessment tool for government policy and legislation. As a group we have also looked at Brexit, poverty and inclusion of all young people and mental health, Vote at 16 is a topic that we are working as we hope 16 and 17 year old will be given the right to vote. 

Maria João Rodrigues

Maria João Rodrigues, was elected Member of the European Parliament in 2014, becoming a member of the S&D Group, the second most important EP Group, with 190 members coming from the 28 Member States. She was then elected by this Group as its Vice-President, in charge of general coordination and interface with the other EU institutions and working with the Committees of Economic and Social Affairs.

After being a Minister of Employment in Portugal, she moved since 2000 to different roles of policy maker in the European Institutions, particularly as member of EU Presidencies leading teams and as special adivisor to the European Commission. The main outcomes she has been working for are:

·                The Economic Policy for Recovery

·                The European Pillar of Social Rights

·                The EU Strategy for growth and jobs, the Lisbon Strategy followed by the EU2020 Strategy

·                The EU agenda for globalization and the strategic partnerships with the USA, China, Russia, India and Brazil for a new growth model

·                The development of several policy areas: employment, education, innovation, research, regional and industrial policies

·                Special EU initiatives: the new Erasmus for mobility, New Skills for New Jobs

·                The final negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty

·                The responses to the euro-zone crisis and the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union

In academic terms, she was professor of European economic policies in the European Studies Institute - Université Libre de Bruxelles and in the Lisbon University Institute. She was also the chair of the European Commission Advisory Board for socio-economic sciences and she was also chair or member of several other High-Level Groups in the European Commission.

She is author of more than one hundred publications.

Herwig Immervol

Herwig Immervoll is Senior Economist and Head of Employment-Oriented Social Policies at the OECD. He has headed research projects and policy dialogue on redistribution and inequality trends, minimum-income safety nets and activation policies and has been the lead author of reports on social policy responses to the economic crisis. He has initiated or co-led World Bank policy analyses in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region on population ageing and pensions, employment support and tax/transfer policies. He has also led employment and social policy reviews of countries seeking to join the OECD as part of its Accession process.

Herwig has held earlier staff positions at the World Bank and at the University of Cambridge, where he had a major role in developing EUROMOD, the EU-wide tax-benefit model. He is a Research Fellow at the the IZA in Bonn and a Research Associate/Affiliate at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER, University of Essex), the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research (Vienna), the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM, Canberra). He also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Foundation of International Studies on Social Security (FISS), and was a member of the GINI research network.

Current ongoing work includes trends in income inequality and government redistribution, safety-net benefits and minimum-income protection, rights and responsibilities in social protection systems, gender inequalities, minimum wages, and the implications of the economic crisis for employment and social policies.

Herwig is Austrian and holds a PhD in economics and Masters degrees in economics and in business administration.

Nafsika Vrettaki

Board Member of the European Youth Forum, in charge of the portfolio on Social and Economic Inclusion

Nafsika was born in August 1992 in Athens and has origins from Crete. Her family has a diplomatic background and thus she developed interest in foreign relations at a young age. In 2014 she obtained her BA in Sociology from Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences with Upper second-class honours and she is currently completing her MSc in Communication Studies, New Media and Society in Europe from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Along with her studies she has had internships at the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Parliament at MEP Maria Spyraki. She has previously worked in the customer service field at Athens Airport. For several years she participated in Model United Nations Conferences in Europe and was appointed as Secretary-General twice. She speaks Greek, English, French and Turkish.

Nafsika joined YEPP in 2014 and was nominated for YFJ Board Member about two years later. She is also member of the International Affairs Secretariat of ONNED, the political youth organization of New Democracy Party.


Workshop 2 - Rural-Urban dimensions: towards more territorial and social cohesion!

Brendan Burns

Brendan Burns has represented SMEs on a variety of UK Government and EU committees. In 2006, he was appointed by the UK Government to the EESC. In 2013 he was elected as the Vice President of the employers group and in 2015 he was elected as President of the EESC's NAT Section (Rural affairs, environment and agriculture).

Eduardo Francés Conde

Eduardo Francés Conde, born in Burgos (Spain) in 1954, is married and has two children. He studied Laws in the University of Navarra and is a public worker on a leave of absence since 1986, when he returned to a rural environment as the director of a Workshop, to teach local artisan rehabilitation skills in serious risk of disappearance.

Mayor of Castrojeriz (Burgos) 1987-1999, City Councillor of Burgos (1999-2007), Founder and President of local LEADER group “ADECO-Camino de Santiago (1991-2015).

Rural entrepreneur in Castrojeriz, he owns a touristic services enterprise which employs 10 people. Nowadays he is a member of the executive board of the National Rural Development Network “REDER”.

Robert Levesque

Mr Levesque is trained as an agricultural engineer and is the director of Terres d’Europe-Scafr, the research office of the French national federation of SAFER (FNSafer). He is also part of the administration of SAFER as well as the management board of AEIAR (European association for rural development institutions). He is the author of “Terre nourricière, si elle venait à manquer” (L’Harmattan, 2011) and of « Terre et Humanité, la voie de l’Ecolocène » (L’Harmattan, 2016).


Klaus Ehrlich studied Economics - Business Administration at the University of Siegen (DE) from 1976-1983, with one year at the University of Sevilla (81/82).  Co-founder and manager of several entrepreneur associations related with rural tourism in Andalusia (RAAR, AHRA) since 1991 until 2006. Since 2002 he is responsible for the management of EuroGites – European Federation of Rural Tourism as president and general secretary. Involved in several working groups and consultative bodies at the European Commission related with tourism and rural development.

Professional activity relates – apart from the generic tasks of managing trade organisations - to promotional services vía internet and ICT, professional training activities related with rural tourism and development in general, scientific research and follow-up of Quality perception, and development of nature-based tourism products.  Overall responsible for the organisation and content of the 5 editions of the European Congress on Rural Tourism since 2003, and of the STRD2017 conference. Participation in specific ad-hoc working groups at the EU, the most recent ones being related with the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Europe, EU expert group on Low Season Tourism EULSTIB, ENRD work group on rural businesses, and skills in tourism.  Professional contacts in 25 countries, including island, transitional, and developing economies, which allows drawing on a wide scope of practical experiences.

Sofia Björnsson

Sofia Björnsson works at the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) as an Expert on Agricultural Policies and Rural Development. She has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since September 2015. She is also the Chairperson at Copa and Cogeca’s working group for Rural Development. Prior to her work at LRF, she worked at the Swedish Ministry for Rural Development. In her work she focuses on promoting policies that create good conditions for farmers, other rural entrepreneurs and rural communities. To produce high quality food meeting consumers’ and societal demands while respecting the three dimensions of sustainability is of high priority.

Jose Enrique Garcilazo

Jose Enrique Garcilazo is the Head of the Rural Policy Unit within the Regional Development Policy Division at the OECD. His work mainly focuses on analysing the key drivers for growth and bottlenecks among different types of regions and their impact to aggregate growth. Current projects aim at redefining modern rural development policies, better understanding the role of policies and institutions on development, linking renewable energy and natural resource activities to rural development, and enhancing service delivery and well-being. He was the former Head of Unit for Regional Growth and Policies within the same Division. Author of three books and a variety of articles, Jose Enrique has been at the OECD for last 12 years. He currently teaches at Science Po in the Masters of Public Affairs and in the Masters of International Relations program. Prior to the OECD, he obtained a PhD degree from the University of Texas at Austin at the LBJ School of Public Affairs

Tom Jones

Tom Jones has been a Wales-UK Group 3 member of the EESC for some 12 years. He is a member of the NAT bureau and of the Social Economy Category. The joint author of an Opinion in 2015 on the current EU Rural Development Programme and preparing another Opinion on Villages and Small Towns. He is a farmer and leader of the 3rd Sector in Wales, a Trustee of the Community Foundation and an advisor to Welsh Government on Community Development. He is a former Legal Aid Commissioner and author of 3 books in the Welsh Language. A Fellow of the UK Royal Agricultural Societies.

Gérard Peltre

Gérard Peltre has a large experience in rural development as mayor of a village during 37 years and as project developer.

Since 1996, he is president of the international association Rurality-Environment-Devloppement and impulses a networking dynamics around the recognition of the rural territories. Inside the association, he is assuming various mandates at the European level (Consultative Group for Rural development, Steering group of Rural Development, European Leader sub-group, European Steering group RURBAN). Since 20 years, he is also president of the European Countryside Movement, platform grouping 17 European associations actives in the specific area of rural development.  He is recognized as expert in many French associations and often invited as speaker at national and international conferences. He is also managing his own agency « InnovDev » as expert consultant and advising local and regional communities in strategic development.

Patrice Collignon

Director of the international association Rurality-Environment-Development

Coordinator of the European Countryside Movement, platform of international NGOs representing rural areas by the European Union (1997-2017)

President of the European Center for Rural and Environmental Interests C.E.I.R.E.), grouping forty NGOs enjoying participative status by the Council of Europe (1990-2010)

President of the Task Force ONG Nature, European platform grouping 48 NGOs in the framework of the European Nature Conservation Year 1995.


Workshop 3 - Challenging right-wing populism: The role of civic engagement, education and culture

Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ

Alexandrina NAJMOWICZ has been working for over ten years in the third sector and not-for-profit organisations in Romania, France and Europe wise. She is currently Director of the European Civic Forum, a transnational network of associations across Europe, working to protect civic space, enable civic participation and build civil dialogue for Equality, Solidarity and Democracy in Europe. In this capacity, she led different campaigns and initiatives aiming to strengthen the capacity and the role of civil society organisations to stand and act for these values, defend citizens’ rights and become influential in the decision making process. She represents the European Civic Forum in different stakeholders’ groups within the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee Liaison Group or the Council of Europe’s OING Conference.

Juana Bengoa

As a member of its Board, she belongs to Alianza por la Solidaridad, which is an international organisation active in Latin America and Palestine. It is the belief of the organisation that global issues and human rights require global solutions. The organisation forms a bridge between the rest of the world and Europe. They are members of Volonteurope and Juana is also a member of its Board, since the elections that took place in October 2016.

As the former executive director of an organisation that merged with Alianza, she has actively participated in diverse advocacy and gender international networks in Europe and in the United Nations. She has also worked for public administration in Spain and for the Spanish Parliament. After retiring her time is fully dedicated to the work of Alianza. On a personal level, she worked for citizens organizations and social rights of poor people during Franco’s dictatorship and the democratic transition in Spain.

Duje Prkut

Duje Prkut is a researcher in GONG, a watch-dog organization based in Zagreb. He has expertise in a wide array of anti-corruption topics with emphasis on transparency, conflict of interest, ethics, access to information, lobbying and anti-corruption policy. Duje Prkut has a degree in political science from the Faculty of Political Sciences (University of Zagreb), where he is currently attending PhD studies in Comparative Politics. His scientific research interests include comparative politics, electoral models, populism and public policy.

Katherine Heid

Katherine's passion for culture has driven her 15+ year career in the arts, intercultural exchange, and European politics.

She began her career at the Franco-German Youth Office in Paris, where she focused on projects and events in film and music. She then worked for the German Youth Ministry’s Department for International Youth Policy, for IJAB, the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as for the Council of Europe. At the Council of Europe, Katherine was responsible for “all different – all equal” campaign activities, in addition to organising conferences and workshops on human rights, refugees, diversity and inter-religious dialogue. She then spent six years as co-director of RESEO, the European Network for Opera and Dance Education and was an elected member of Culture Action Europe’s Executive Committee. In July 2015, Katherine joined Culture Action Europe as Head of political development.

Katherine holds a graduate degree in psychology and political sciences, specialising in intercultural and neuropsychology. She is a former professional dancer


Yannik Stefani

Yannik Stefani is a nineteen year old volunteer in the non-profit organization “Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa e.V.” which is in the heart of the city Passau. He successfully received his university-entrance diploma in June 2016 and will study Law from October 2017 on. The organization delivers a huge variety of projects and activities concentrating on the goal of motivating the society to voluntary engagement. Right at the moment there are 16 projects that are managed mostly by young volunteers. Project management, personal contact with the people in need and public relations are some of his main tasks. The projects “10 pictures – 10 hours – 10 meetings”, “Children experience cultures” and “Xenophilia” are coordinated and organized by him. Therefore he daily works with refugees and migrants and arranges different activities with them. Next to the work in the organization he works as a freelancer in a radio station and is engaged in a sports club.


Luca Scholz

Luca Scholz is a 20 years old volunteer. Since August 2016 he works for the organisation „Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa e.V.“ , which is an association from Passau (South Bavaria, Germany). He acquired his general-university entrance diploma in the year 2015. In December 2016 he was elected to the vice federal speaker of the volunteers of the federal volunteer service.

Amjad Abo Huwaij

Amjad Abo Huwaij is 25 years old and he`s from Syria. He arrived in Germany in December 2015 as a refugee. He had studied banking and had worked as an Accountant.
At the moment he is learning German in Passau University and working as a Volunteer in the organization "Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa e. V.". He is working in many projects like “Xenophilia”, “Children experience cultures”  and he is translating a guide for the refugees from German to Arabic
He is also involved in European Project called Re.inclusion .

Marta Lempart

Marta Lempart, the initator and organizer of the Polish Women's Strike - grassroots, nonpartisan movement that prevented total abortion ban from being implemented in Poland in October 2016 ("black protests"). Social activist, proud co-author of the Sign Language Act (2011) and regulations implementing EU law on disabilities and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into Polish law system. Small city born, now runs a family construction bussiness.

Clymene Christoforou

Our culture makes us who we are:  it defines our neighbourhoods, our nations, our characters, our tribes.  The arts connect our places and people, revealing stories that celebrate our difference and share our humanity.  I am an international arts producer and cultural policy advisor.  As a producer I develop projects, which connect artists, local communities and international partners.  Together we make site specific art to reveal and question the world around us, drawing ties between communities of difference.  As a cultural policy advisor I work with European platforms, national networks and regional committees to support and advocate for the value of arts and culture in our society.  

I am the founding director of ISIS Arts, a visual and media arts organisation.  We connect artists to communities across borders and culture through an innovative programme of contemporary art, and are particularly interested in taking work to audiences less likely to experience mainstream arts and culture. Over the past 15 years we have developed European programs with over 300 artists and organisations and further afield have worked in South Africa and India and with artists from around the world.  We are a well networked organisation and I have recently served as an executive committee member of Culture Action Europe, the political platform for culture in Brussels.  In the UK I am a board member of International Newcastle, an NGO promoting internationalism within the city, a member of the international sub group of the regional Culture Partnership and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)


Workshop 4 - New technologies and transition: What role for civil society in a future of e-democracy ?

Elisa Lironi

Elisa Lironi is the Digital Democracy Coordinator for the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS). She develops and leads ECAS’ Digital Democracy agenda by implementing projects and research studies in this focus area. She is currently managing the project Digital Ecosystem for E-Participation Linking Youth (Erasmus+ programme) and takes part in the EUCROWD project (Europe for Citizens). Her latest research projects were on e-participation and crowdsourcing at the EU level, and she is currently working on a study on e-consultations. She also coordinates ECAS’ Support Centre on the European Citizens’ Initiative.

Assya Kavrakova

Assya Kavrakova is the Director of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) - http://www.ecas.org/ - an international non-profit organization, based in Brussels, with a pan-European membership and 26 years of experience in EU citizens’ rights enforcement and civic participation in the EU decision-making process. She is also a member of the Stakeholder group of the REFIT Platform for Better Regulation.

Before joining ECAS, Ms. Kavrakova served as the Director of European Policies Program at the Open Society Institute (OSI-S) in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she was also leading the analytical and research activity of the European Policies Initiative. She personally authored the paper: “The Unfinished Business of the Fifth Enlargement Countries”. Assya Kavrakova has a Master’s degree in Law and another Master’s degree in European Studies. She has worked as a Public Policies and Outreach Director at the Democracy Network Program (DemNet) of the USAID. She was also the Executive Director of the Bulgarian branch of Transparency International. Assya Kavrakova is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow.  

Tsiavos Promodos

Prodromos is the Head of Digital Development at the Onassis Cultural Centre and a Senior Research Fellow at The Media Institute (TMI), London. Prodromos has worked for the National Hellenic Research Foundation (National Documentation Centre), the European Commission, Oslo University and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is currently teaching Legal and Ethical Aspects of Data Science at the Athens University of Economics and Business. He read law and Information Systems in Athens and London and holds a PhD in Law and Information Systems from the LSE. Prodromos has worked as an adviser for the Greek Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, the Special Secretary for Digital Convergence, as well as public and sector bodies and private companies in the cultural and creative industries. He has over 120 publications and talks on legal and business aspects of open technologies, digital content and IPR management. Prodromos is chairing the administrative council of the Greek Industrial Property Organisation and is a member of the Board of the European Patent Academy.

Imants Breidaks

Imants Breidaks is a CEO at ManaBalss.lv - a platform of initiatives where every citizen of Latvia can put their ideas and collect signatures to be transferred to the Latvian Parliament. Imants also has a significant experience of leading various educational and business management projects. Passionate about building a stronger democracy in Europe and rest of the world, Imants is always looking for new opportunities to share the story and transfer ManaBalss.lv successful experience to the places where strong civil society is most needed.

Laurentiu Bunescu

Laurentiu Bunescu is the CEO of ALL DIGITAL, overseeing the strategic development of the organization, the development of existing and new partnerships, and the growth of membership. Laurentiu has been involved in the European telecentres movement since 2005. He joined ALL DIGITAL (then Telecentre-Europe) as Project Manager in early 2008, where he managed a number of projects including the annual Get Online Week campaign.

Before ALL DIGITAL, Laurentiu started one of the first telecentres in Romania and became a facilitator and supporter of the Romanian national network of telecentres. With a strong background in the non-profit sector, Laurentiu’s early experience in Eastern European grassroots community development provides a major insight in understanding the network of community digital competence centres across the whole of Europe.

Lex Paulson

Lex Paulson serves as international counselor to D21, professor of advocacy at Sciences Po-Paris, and mobilisation strategist for the En Marche movement. A native of Washington DC, he has worked as an attorney, professor, writer, and political organizer, including projects for UNICEF, the U.S. State Department, and the National Democratic Institute. Trained in political theory at Yale, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne, he served as legislative counsel in the 111th U.S. Congress, organized on four U.S. presidential campaigns, and has led projects in countries such as India, Tunisia, Egypt, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire, and Qatar.


Workshop 5 - Countering anti-European populist rhetoric: The use of frames in our communication

Ulrike Grassinger

Ulrike Grassinger is Director Projects at Counterpoint. A social-psychologist by background, Ulrike brings together insights on human behaviour, sentiment and choice with her experience in managing consultancy projects for business and political leaders. She has been working on metaphors and framing for the last years and regularly facilitates high-level workshops to advise decision-makers on framing and the use of language. Before joining Counterpoint, Ulrike worked as a management consultant where she advised senior-level management and led large-scale change projects. Trained as a systemic consultant and therapist, she has experience in working with systems, organisations and groups to foster shifts in perspectives.


Workshop 6 - Empowering civil society to act and grow in Europe

Kélig Puyet

Kélig Puyet joined Social Platform as Director in May 2017. She leads the network of 47 European social civil society organisations in advocating for EU policies that are developed in partnership with the people they affect, respecting fundamental rights, promoting solidarity and improving lives. Previously she was Head of Global Advocacy at SOS Children’s Villages International.

In her different roles Ms Puyet has acquired extensive experience of the civil society sector and the impact that EU and national policies have on people in vulnerable situations. She has over twenty years’ experience in the field of human rights, with a specific focus on children and youths, both in the EU and worldwide. Prior to joining SOS Children’s Villages International in 2006 as Head of EU Office, she was Institutional Relations Coordinator and Human Rights and Equality Policy Officer at the European Youth Forum.

Ms Puyet holds a master’s degree in law from the Robert Schuman University in Strasbourg, and a European master’s degree in human rights and democratisation from the Interdepartmental Centre on Human Rights and the Rights of People (University of Padova) and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (University of Lund).

Israel Butler

Israel is Head of Advocacy at the Civil Liberties Union for Europe. From 2015-2017 he worked as a consultant on EU affairs and human rights law and policy, providing research and advocacy services to the governmental and not-for-profit sectors. Between 2012 and 2015 he was senior policy analyst on fundamental rights, justice and home affairs at the Open Society European Policy Institute in Brussels. Prior to this, he worked for three years at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna as a legal researcher and speechwriter. He began his career in academia, as a tutor in International Law and Human Rights Law at Nottingham University and later as a Lecturer at Lancaster University, covering EU Law and Human Rights Law. Israel holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and a masters and PhD from the University of Nottingham.

Carlotta Besozzi

Carlotta Besozzi is since September 2015 Coordinator of Civil Society Europe, the coordination of European Civil Society Organisations on transversal issues such as civil dialogue, civic space and funding. Previously she was the Director of the European Disability Forum until end of 2014 where she started as officer responsible for social policy and membership development, after starting her career as a European Parliament assistant. Carlotta Besozzi holds a degree in philosophy at the Université Catholique de Louvain. Additionally she is engaged in youth work, and enjoys hiking and baking.

Waltraud Heller

Waltraud Heller is coordinating FRA’s work with civil society organisations, within the framework of the Agency’s “Fundamental Rights Platform” (FRP). The Agency is the EU’s independent centre of expertise on human rights, and advises EU institutions and EU Member State governments on human rights. Waltraud Heller has worked for FRA for over 10 years, initially as communications expert and spokesperson, and since three years using her skills and knowledge on participatory engagement for enhancing FRA’s cooperation with civil society. Since autumn 2016, she also coordinates FRA’s project on civil society space.
Kersty McCourt
Kersty McCourt is a senior advocacy advisor with the Open Society Justice Initiative based in Brussels where she leads on a range of advocacy work related to rights, justice and civic space. Kersty helped establish the HRDN working group on the enabling environment for civil society and led the group from its start. The group has been key in placing the challenges faced by civil society on the EU’s agenda including through the 2015 Human Rights Forum.  
Prior to joining OSJI Kersty worked with the Danish Institute for Human Rights. From 2008 to 2009, she was program manager in Copenhagen, Denmark and from 2005 was DIHR’s Head of Mission in Rwanda managing a post-genocide justice programme. Kersty qualified as a lawyer in the UK and worked for a number of NGOs in Kenya, the Gambia and Namibia. Kersty holds a BSc Hons in Biological Sciences from Durham University, UK, a Post Graduate Diploma in Law from The College of Law, UK, and a European Masters in Human Rights and Democratization. She is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales.
Lilit Poghosyan
Lilit Poghosyan is a human rights advocate with 15 years’ international NGO experience in the fields of human rights and health. She is currently leading the European advocacy and mobilization work at European Network of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF EN). Prior to joining IPPF EN, she worked at ILGA-Europe and at Médecins Sans Frontières.
Lilit has an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans

Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans is a lawyer and expert on civil society law and sustainability of the nonprofit sector.  She is the Executive Director of the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) which is regional organization dedicated to creating and enabling policy and legal framework for civil society organisations.  For over 16 years, Katerina conducts comparative research, national analysis and provides assistance in reforming of policies and laws that affect the work of civil society in Europe and beyond.  Katerina has helped design innovative tools for civil society, written over 30 comparative research papers and delivered a TEDx talk on the power of civic action.  In her work, Katerina engages with the European Union, Council of Europe and is member of several bodies of intergovernmental agencies which promote enabling environment for civil society law issues and fundamental freedoms. 



CSDays2017 - Speaker's biographies (main programme)