Thursday 23 November 2023

8.30 - 9.30 a.m. Registration and welcome Coffee

9.30 - 10.10 a.m. Welcome session

  • Introduction: Aurel Laurențiu Plosceanu, EESC Vice-President for Communication

Welcome speeches:

  • Oliver Röpke, EESC President
  • Cosmin Boiangiu, executive director of the European Labour Authority
  • Monika Uhlerová, Vice-President of Economic and Social Council of Slovakia
  • Vladimir Šucha, Head of the European Commission Representation in Slovakia
  • Robert Sermek, Head of European Parliament Liaison Office in Slovakia

10.10 - 10.30 a.m. Keynote speech:

  • Grigorij Mesežnikov, political analyst, president of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) in Slovakia

"Slovakia: a case in point for European elections"

  • Interviewer: Ivana Dragičević, editor-at-large and reporter for N1 television/CNN exclusive news channel affiliate; Europe’s Futures Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna

10.30 - 11 a.m. Coffee break

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Panel I: Disinformation and how to survive it in the 2024 "World cup of elections"

How disinformation is likely to impact the 2024 European elections and what can be done to fight it

"The World Cup of elections": that is how 2024 is being described in some quarters. One billion voters will head to the polls across the EU, the US, India, the UK, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Ukraine in a rare convergence of election cycles. Disinformation is expected to be rife. How is it likely to affect the EU elections? We will look at recent ballots for clues of what shapes it is going to take as AI becomes the new frontier of disinformation. With ever more people consuming their news online and with political adverts now occupying the online space, digital platforms and social media are again projected to have a huge influence on people's opinions and attitudes both in terms of a turnout and the choice of their future MEPs.  Will the EU rules, such as Digital Services Act or new proposed rules on political advertising, contribute to watering down the influx of fake news or curbing foreign interference in the election? We will take a close look at Slovakia, where people will have cast their votes by then, for clues of what is to come. And we will discuss what can be done to counter the barrage of lies, false narratives and army of social media trolls and for democracy to survive.

Moderator: Andrej Matišak, Deputy chief of foreign desk, Pravda, Slovakia

Introduction to the topic: Violeta Jelić, Vice-President of the EESC Employers' Group


  • Rasťo Kužel, media and election expert, and executive director of MEMO 98
  • Nick Robins-Early, journalist writing for The Guardian, Insider, Huffington Post
  • Alice Stollmeyer, founder and executive director, Defend Democracy
  • Giovanni Zagni, chair of the European Digital Media Observatory's Task Force on the 2024 European Elections

1 – 2.30 p.m. Lunch break

2.30 - 4.30 p.m. Networking session

2.30 - 3.30 Philip Schulmeister, director for campaigns, European Parliament

  • The European Parliament's campaign strategy for the 2024 elections
  • The "togetherEU" community and how to organise local election campaign events
  • Q& A

3.30 - 4.30 But what can we do?

Introduction by Alexander Kleinig, EESC director for Communication and Inter-institutional Relations

  • Braistorming session with attending communicators on how civil society organisations can help get out the vote

4.30 - 6.00 p.m. Visit to the the Jan Kuciak monument

  • with a presentation by journalist Tomáš Madleňák, Jan Kuciak Investigative Centre 

Friday 24 November 2023

9.00 - 9.30 a.m.Registration and coffee

9.30 - 10.00 a.m. Opening session

  • Aurel Laurentiu Ploceanu, EESC Vice-President for Communication
  • Karin Kovary Solymos, Jan Kuciak investigative Centre

"Slovakia: a playground for Russian propaganda?"

10.00 - 12.30 a.m. Panel II – Civil society and elections: winning hearts and minds of European voters

Mobilising civil society around elections: what works and what does not

As an advocate of citizens' rights and interests, civil society can play a major role in imparting the importance of European elections to Europeans. But is Europe's civil society ready to take on this challenge? And if yes, which channels should it use to hammer home why one's vote matters? In the new communication landscape where battles are won through social media posts and comments, are traditional media losing the communication war against their social counterpart? Which social media channels are projected to gain and or lose relevance in 2024? Or will the battle for the hearts and minds of voters be in the end won in person, through canvassing and at public gatherings?

We will look at recent and less recent elections to find out about do's and don'ts of communicating with prospective voters, with special attention to the ways of mobilising young and older voters. We will probe the potential contribution civil society can make to secure the high turnout in the election of a new European Parliament for its challenging mandate ahead.

Moderator: Eva Mihočkova, chief editor, Slovak Foreign Policy Association portal, former Euractiv reporter

Introduction to the topic: Miroslav Hajnoš, member of the EESC Workers' Group


  • Laura Sullivan - Executive Director at WeMove SCE mbH and WeMove Europe gGmbH
  • Małgorzata Molęda-Zdziech, professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Institute of International Studies, Department of Political Studies
  • Dominika Hajdu, Director, Centre for Democracy & Resilience at GLOBSEC
  • Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee

12.30 -1.30 p.m. Lunch break

1.00 - 4.00 pm Panel III – Pitching for the future: how to turn out young people

How to mobilise young people around the elections

A recent survey carried out in six EU countries including Slovakia suggests that 36% of young people in the EU are lukewarm about voting in the forthcoming European elections.

The reason behind this appears to be a feeling of disconnect: up to 50% of Europeans aged 18 to 25 are feeling abandoned by mainstream politics and the EU. More than 70% of these young people are convinced that Europe does not understand their life, does not care about them, and does not represent them.

Their (non) participation can make a big difference. What can we do to ensure that they turn out in force? This panel will look at how and where to reach out to young people to encourage them to cast their ballot between 6 and 9 June 2024.

Moderator: Ali Al-Jaberi, professional moderator and studio presenter, ProModeration, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Introduction to the topic:

  • Katrina Leitane, member of the EESC Civil Society Organisations' Group (tentative)


  • Martine Clerckx, founder & associate director of Wide, professoe of strategic planning at IHECS, Brussels
  • Ivana Dragičević, editor-at-large and reporter for N1 television/CNN exclusive news channel affiliate; Europe’s Futures Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna
  • Corina Pirvulescu, senior programme management, public policy & campaigning with impact on electoral democracy, youth & digital governance
  • Nika Kovač, founding director, 8th of March Research Institute, Slovenia; member of the 2020 class of the Obama Foundation Leaders program in Europe; book author

The panel will include a presentation of the 2022 EU Future Intiative winning project "This time I've voted, but am I represented?" by authors Federica Bellato, Benedetta Coraglia, Carolina Guerra and Allegra Semenzato (SciencesPo/Università Bocconi)

4.00 - 4.15 pm Closing statement

  • Aurel Laurențiu Plosceanu, EESC Vice-President for Communication