Europe’s Young Leaders 2015 gather in Dublin

Climate change, migration and ‘fortress Europe’ and Brexit all for debate

Issues surrounding climate change, migration and "fortress Europe", a possible exit from the EU by the United Kingdom and the use of taxation as a tool to fight inequality, will be considered today by European Young Leaders who have gathered for a three-day conference in Dublin.

It is being attended by 32 of the 35 current Young Leaders, from various countries across the EU, including Ireland. Each was chosen for the programme, which was initiated in 2011 by the Friends of Europe organisation and EuropaNova, because of their perceived potential to achieve on a larger stage.

The idea, organisers say, is to identify Europe’s most promising young talents “to contribute to Europe’s leadership through their capacity to bring together and inspire people”.

The conference began yesterday at Iveagh House, home of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, where the “cultural and creative strengths of Europe’s diversity” was considered.


Other sessions examined the digital challenge facing Europe and what technology can bring to education, the environment and citizens’ every day lives. A third session examined the challenge of dealing with terrorism.

Today's sessions will include contributions from economist and broadcaster David McWilliams and Renua Ireland leader, Lucinda Creighton TD. Noelle O'Connell, executive director of the European Movement Ireland, will chair a discussion on Saturday on whether Europe is fragmenting or integrating.

At a reception last night in Dublin’s City Hall, host Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said that on the day when Dublin had lost the Web Summit, it was good to see that the city could still attract such gatherings. “This is still a great city, a great place for events,” he said.

He said the value of young people coming together was that it gave them an opportunity to share ideas and network. He had picked up one good idea from a woman who had extolled the merits of using old shipping containers for emergency housing.

He said that Irish people today “felt a bit left out of Europe” but, despite that, he remained a strong supporter of the EU. He lamented, however, hosting a reception in, as he put it, the one place in Ireland where politicians had no power.

The current Irish European Young Leader 2015, Oisín Hanrahan, co-founder of Handybook, was excused from participation in the Dublin seminars.

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times