Home » Event List » Democracy Alive: The Brussels Summit

06 Jun 2023

10:00 am

6:00 pm


BRUSSELS: 06.06.23 | It is a critical time for democracy in Europe and the world as a whole. Seventy-five years ago, the Congress of Europe in The Hague laid the foundation for restoring long-lasting peace and democracy on our continent. Today, we find ourselves facing a new set of challenges that threaten to undermine the progress made so far: the rise of authoritarianism, of far-right leaders and the erosion of common democratic values in many countries, both within the EU and beyond. Furthermore, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to stem its path towards democracy and European integration, accentuates the assault upon liberal democracies we are witnessing across the world.

Democracy Alive: The Brussels Summit was organised by the European Movement International and gathered political leaders, policymakers, academics, social partners, NGOs, and organized civil society to discuss the state of democracy in Europe and strategise how to best counter the threats faced by the EU. It was an opportunity for us to share our thoughts and ideas on how to strengthen democracy and uphold its principles. The Summit lasted a full day and was filled with engaging, sometimes heated conversations and debates on key issues of our time, including a keynote speech by Vice President for Values and Transparency, European Commission, Věra Jourová.

For more information about the panels, speakers, and topics, see the agenda below.


10:00 - 10:15

Opening remarks

10:15 - 11:30

Enemy at the gates: building an alliance to defend democracy and freedom  

Our democracies are under assault, confronting various sets of obstacles that endanger progress made so far: the sharp rise of authoritarianism and far-right leaders, the erosion of shared democratic values in various countries, including within and beyond the EU. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aimed at preventing its democratic and European integration, exacerbates the assault on liberal democracies globally. How can we create a coalition to safeguard democracy and freedom? How can we strengthen democratic institutions and uphold shared values such as the rule of law, human rights, and diversity?


Alin Mituța, Member of European Parliament, Renew

Domenec Ruiz Devesa MEP, Socialists & Democrats

Valeria Ronzitti, Vice-President of EMI and General Secretary of SGI Europe

Elias Dray, Vice-President, European Youth Forum

Evelyne Paradis, Director, ILGA-Europe

11:45 - 13:15

Countering threats: The rise of authoritarianism in Europe and beyond

The rise of far-right parties in the last decade in Europe as well as the sharp turn towards authoritarianism observed in some Member States pose a dangerous threat to liberal democracies. The deterioration of the rule of law, mistrust towards governments and institutions, polarisation and the questioning of the values of the democratic model will be discussed during the panel as well as solutions that can be found to halt these worrying trends. 


H.E. Ambassador Tom Hanney, Irish Permanent Representative to the EU

Daniel Freund MEP, Greens/EFA

Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik, Member of the Warsaw Bar

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary-General, Europa Nostra

Camino Mortera-Martinez, Head of the Brussels office, Centre for European Reform

14:00 - 14:30

Keynote and Q&A with Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova

Defending democracy in a time of insecurity

14:30 - 16:00

The assault on truth: Disinformation and the narrative war 

Disinformation and misinformation have surged in recent years, used to undermine trust in factual information and employed by malicious actors and even governments. The Kremlin has wielded disinformation as a weapon in its war against Ukraine.  The situation has become even more complex with the advent of advanced AI tools, making it easier for malicious actors to manipulate digital videos and images, creating convincing and authentic-looking content that is fake or altered.  

Ahead of the EU elections next year, this panel will focus on the strengthening of citizens’ and society’s resilience to disinformation, making sure that we have appropriate defenses to protect our democracies from external interferences.   


Maria Walsh MEP, EPP

Alexandre Alaphilippe, Executive Director, EU DisinfoLab

Asha Allen, Advocacy Director for Europe, Center for Democracy and Technology

Caroline Greer, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations at TikTok

Julie Majerczak, Head of Brussels Office, Reporters Without Borders

16:15 - 17:45

Looking ahead: what the European Union needs to do to strengthen democracy 

One year ahead of the European Union elections, democratic forces need to advocate for European values. These elections are a key moment to kindle much needed debates on the changes that the EU must achieve to keep up with the challenges of our times, ranging from the war on European soil to the rise of autocracies and illiberal regimes. Civil society and citizens have a crucial role to play in that regard, following on the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the panel will discuss how we can ensure that their voice will be heard and integrated in the EU political debate. 


H.E. Ambassador Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Ambassador, Lithuanian Permanent Representative to the EU

Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, Director General for Communication, European Commission

Finn Heinrich, Division Director for Democratic Renewal, Open Society Foundation

Laura Maria Cinquini, Citizen, Conference on the Future of Europe


Věra Jourová

Vice President for Values and Transparency, European Commission

Tom Hanney

Ambassador, Irish Permanent Representative to the European Union

Ambassador Thomas Hanney is an Irish diplomat. He currently serves as Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the European Union. Previously, he held positions such as Ambassador to Austria, Deputy Permanent Representative in Brussels, and Joint Secretary of the North South Ministerial Council, working with both Irish government and Northern Ireland Assembly members. With extensive experience in international affairs, Ambassador Hanney has represented Ireland with distinction in various diplomatic roles. 

Arnoldas Pranckevičius

Ambassador, Lithuanian Permanent Representative to the European Union

Since March 2022 Arnoldas Pranckevičius serves as Lithuania’s Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the EU. Previously he worked as Lithuania’s Deputy Foreign Minister (2021-2022) responsible for European affairs and trade as well as Head of European Commission Representation in Lithuania (2016-2020). Before joining the Commission he spent 11 years at the European Parliament (2006-2016), serving as Foreign Policy Adviser to EP Presidents Martin Schulz and Jerzy Buzek, advising them on Russia, Eastern Partnership, Western Balkans and Asia, coordinating the work of Cox-Kwasniewski special mission in Ukraine, working in the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Interparliamentary delegations. In 2004-2005 he was Domestic Policy Adviser to Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. Holds EU affairs MA from Sciences Po Paris and international relations BA from Colgate University, USA.


Daniel Freund

Member of European Parliament, Greens/EFA

Daniel Freund has been a Member of the European Parliament for the Greens since 2019. His main issues are transparency, democracy, the fight against corruption and the future of the EU. He is a a member of the Constitutional and Budgetary Control Committee. He leads the Greens’ work on the conference on the future of the EU, negotiates on the independent ethics authority and chairs the cross-party working group against corruption. 

Alin Mituța

Member of European Parliament, Renew

Alin Mituța is a Romanian Member of the European Parliament in the Renew Europe group, currently sitting, among others in AFCO, ITRE, REGI & AGRI committees.

He was also a member of the Conference on the Future of Europe, where one of his priorities was to create a permanent consultation mechanism for EU citizens, so that citizens are regularly consulted in EU decision making, and not just in elections time.

He was State Secretary and Head of Cabinet of the Prime Minister of Romania between 2016 and 2017.

Alin was also an executive director and founder of one of the largest Romanian platforms dedicated to strengthening citizens participation in public life, Platforma România 100, who counted some 40.000 members shortly after its creation.

He also founded Europuls, an NGO encouraging public debate on EU affairs in Romania.

Domenec Ruiz Devesa

Member of European Parliament, Socialists & Democrats

Domènec Ruiz Devesa has a degree in Law and Economics from the Carlos III University, in Political Science and Sociology from the UNED, and a master’s degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University, with a specialty in European Studies, and a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Economic Growth and Sustainable Development by UNED. He has been a consultant for several international organizations such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, or the Union for the Mediterranean, as well as international consultant for Oxford Policy Management and Family Health International, and think tanks such as Fundación Alternativas, and Fundación Sistema.

He has been an advisor to the Minister of the Presidency (2011), an advisor to the Spanish Socialist Delegation in the European Parliament (2014-2018) and deputy head for Political and Parliamentary Affairs in the cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. He is currently the Vice-President of the Union of European Federalist and a member of its Federal Committee and a member of the Executive Board of the Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement. In 2019, he was elected Member of the European Parliament, where he is the spokesperson for the Constitutional Affairs Committee and a  member of the Culture and Education Committee. He also carries out his parliamentary responsibilities from the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, as well as in the inter-parliamentary delegations with the Republic of Iraq, of which he is Vice-President, beside the delegations of Mashreq and Palestine.


Maria Walsh

Member of European Parliament, European People’s Party

Valeria Ronzitti

Vice-President of EMI and General Secretary of SGI Europe

Ms. Ronzitti is the General Secretary of SGI Europe, a position she has held since May 2012. With a background in law, she joined SGI Europe as a legal advisor in 2003 and rose through the ranks. During her time as Head of Social Affairs from 2005 to 2009, she represented SGI Europe in various negotiations and agreements on important labor-related matters at the European level. In addition to her role at SGI Europe, she served as the Director of HOSPEEM, the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers Association, from 2005 to 2010. In her current position as General Secretary, she oversees the management of the organization, including policy-making, external representation, communication, and staff management. She is focused on positioning public services as a vital component of the EU’s post-COVID-19 recovery and shaping the future of the European Project. Ms. Ronzitti has also been actively involved in the REFIT Platform and currently serves as a member of the Fit4Future Platform. She has represented SGI Europe in the Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe and holds a position on the Board of the European Movement International, where she was elected Vice-President in 2020.

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen

Director General for Communication, European Commission

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen is the Director-General for Communication in the European Commission.

A former Chief Spokesperson of the Commission, she took up this position in March 2019, after having served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Operating Officer since March 2018.

Prior to that, she was a Director in the Commission’s Directorate-General for Communication, in charge of the Commission’s Representations in the Member States.

Pia studied Business Administration and Modern Languages at the Copenhagen Business School and Political Science at the Institut d’études Politiques de Paris.

Alexandre Alaphilippe

Executive Director, EU DisinfoLab

Alexandre Alaphilippe is the executive director and co-founder of the EU DisinfoLab. Since 2017, he has coordinated work on some of the organisation’s largest investigations into Information Operations linked to Russia, India and China, and is a member of a number of working groups in Brussels and Washington DC linked to platform regulation, transatlantic relations, and hybrid threats, where he emphasises the role of civil society in maintaining democratic values. He has published papers for the Brookings Institution and his work has been featured on CNN, BBC, Le Monde and Politico.

Asha Allen

Advocacy Director for Europe, Online Expression & Civic Space for the Centre of Democracy and Technology

Asha Allen is Advocacy Director for Europe, Online Expression & Civic Space for the Centre of Democracy and Technology, Europe Office, where she coordinates the organisation’s engagement on issues related to content moderation, free expression, civic space and the protection of fundamental rights. She coordinated advocacy for the EU Digital Services Act, European DemocracyAction Plan and the ongoing Directive on Violence against Women. Asha is an award-nominated policy specialist on eradicating online gender-based violence, having worked with the OSCE, UN Women, World Wide Web Foundation and creator of the #HerNetHerRights II: Prevent, Protect Promote Campaign.

Laura Maria Cinquini


Laura Maria Cinquini is an Italian cultural anthropologist with a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Bologna University. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the same field at the same university. She completed an Erasmus internship in Germany where she co-organized a Chinese art exhibition at the Landesmuseum of Hannover. In 2022, she participated in the 4th Citizen Panel of the Conference for the Future of Europe, where she worked on the migration topic. She was subsequently appointed as an ambassador of her panel and collaborated with other citizens, trade unionists, representatives of civil society, members of national parliaments and of the three European institutions on this issue. She continues to to work with her fellow ambassadors to advocate for and advance their proposals in several areas. 

Elias Dray

Vice-President, European Youth Forum

Elias is a European and Human Rights activist from France. He is the Former President of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and has represented young people in several capacities, including within the French Union of Jewish Students and the French Scouting Federation at a global level. He is well versed in advocacy strategy, research, and policy analysis and has experience in combating racism and online hate speech. Elias holds an M.A. in International Relations, Conflict & Security from the University of Kent.

Caroline Greer

Director of Public Policy & Government Relations, TikTok

Caroline Greer is Director of Public Policy and Government Relations at TikTok, managing the Brussels office. Caroline has over 20 years of public policy and regulatory experience in tech and telecoms, in both the public and private sector.  

She started her career with the Irish telecoms regulator, moving on to work for the Irish government with a focus on broadband policy, and subsequently working for domain name registries in both Ireland and the UK. Prior to joining TikTok, Caroline was Head of European Public Policy at the U.S cybersecurity company Cloudflare, and she was also the Director of Public Policy for the European telecoms trade association, ETNO.  

Finn Heinrich

Division Director for European Transformations at Open Society’s Europe and Central Asia Programme

Finn Heinrich is Division Director for European Transformations at Open Society’s Europe and Central Asia Programme. Before joining OSF, Finn acquired 20 years of programmatic and research experience working with international NGOs in the fields of governance, democracy and civil society, such as CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Transparency International and Democracy Reporting International. Finn studied social sciences at University of Mannheim and Johns Hopkins University and holds a doctorate in political science from FernUniversität Hagen, Germany. Currently, his specific interests are on how to leverage civic participation and democratic processes to make the major digital and socio-ecological transformations across Europe effective, just and sustainable.

Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik

Member of the Warsaw Bar

Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik, a member of Warsaw Bar. She specialises in healthcare law, especially the Pharmaceutical Law, the Reimbursement Act and the Act on Medical Activity. Recommended for many years by Polish (Rzeczpospolita and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna) and international (Chambers Europe, Who’s Who, PLC Which Lawyer) rankings as the best specialist in pharmaceutical law in Poland.
Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik is also a co-founder of the Lege Pharmaciae Foundation, a non-governmental organisation formed to analyse and hold a public debate on defects in legal regulations in the healthcare sector. Paulina Kieszkowska-Knapik works with the Civic Legislation Forum at the Stefan Batory Foundation on the introduction of European lawmaking standards in Poland. She advises patient organisations pro bono, including the Polish Coalition of Cancer Patient Organisations, the Alivia Foundation and the Federation of Polish Patients.
She is a member of the Forum for Dialogue. One of the initiator and organiser of the #solidarityintruth action. Member of the #WolneSądy (#FreeCourts) initiative defending independence of the Polish judiciary.
A winner of the title “Female advocate of the year 2017” for her pro bono and civic activity.


Julie Majerczak

Head of Brussels Office, Reporters Without Borders

Camino Mortera-Martinez

Head of the Brussels office, Centre for European Reform

Camino Mortera-Martinez is head of the Brussels office at the Centre for European Reform. Camino works on EU justice and home affairs, with a particular focus on migration, data protection, internal security, criminal law and police and judicial co-operation. She also covers Spain’s foreign and European policies.

Prior to joining the CER, Camino worked in several projects for the European Commission, as part of the justice and home affairs team of a Brussels-based consultancy. She was particularly involved in projects dealing with free movement of persons, criminal and civil law, counter-terrorism (including aviation security), police and judicial co-operation and international private law. Camino has also worked at a law firm in Spain, at the European Commission in Brussels and at an international German company in Berlin, Barcelona and Brussels.

Camino is a qualified lawyer and holds a Master’s Degree in Law by the University of Oviedo (Spain), an Exchange Diploma in Legal Studies by Cardiff University (UK) and a Master of Arts on EU Political and Administrative Studies by the College of Europe (Belgium).

She is a regular contributor to media in Europe and the US and has given evidence to the UK Parliament.

Evelyne Paradis

Executive Director, ILGA-Europe

Evelyne joined ILGA-Europe in 2005. Before becoming Executive Director, she was Policy Director – coordinating advocacy work with the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. For example, she led ILGA-Europe’s campaign and lobbying work around the EU’s anti-discrimination directive.

Prior to joining ILGA-Europe, Evelyne worked with the UN High Commission for Human Rights, the Council of Europe and human rights NGOs in Canada. Originally from Canada, Evelyne holds post-graduate degrees in history, political science and European studies.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović

Secretary-General, Europa Nostra

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