22 February 2021

Letter from the Head of the OED

Introducing the Open European Dialogue, former Mercator European Dialogue

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Europe is undergoing one – if not the – largest challenge since its creation. The corona crisis has intensified existing societal tensions and added a global pandemic dimension to the already complex political landscape.

We’ve all grown tired of the isolation that comes with staring at our friends, families and colleagues through a screen. Many of us have felt the powerlessness of not being able to be close to our loved ones when they needed us the most. The loss of jobs and the fear for the very survival of our economies, only adding to the feeling of incredible uncertainty that we find ourselves having to deal with.

It is in this context that policymakers who have taken upon themselves the responsibility to lead us are called upon to try to make sense of it all, tasked with taking decisions that will affect the lives of millions and shape the future for decades.

The Mercator European Dialogue was born over five years ago in a similarly grueling political environment. At the time, still knee-deep in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, we started witnessing the rise of political tensions across Europe.

We realized then that it is precisely in times of uncertainty and crisis that we need to work to keep political communication channels open and make space for more, not less, dialogue.

Since then, we have taken pride in offering a platform to bring policymakers together. Our members leave our conversations with not only a deeper understanding of the topic-at-hand, but also a better understanding of their European counterparts.

A helpful concept that is needed in Europe today.

One of the most intellectually stimulating discussions I have attended in a long time.”

It is my honor today to introduce you to the next phase of our common project. From today on, we will be recasting our name to the Open European Dialogue.

Today, the Open European Dialogue is a politically neutral platform that aims to improve European politics by supporting policymakers in better understanding challenges and perspectives from across Europe. We do that by connecting European politicians across parties and nations, providing space for dialogue and promoting innovative political conversations in a way that no one else does.

Our new platform is meant to better reflect our mission and the expanded scope of our work. Despite the difficult challenges that policymakers across Europe are and will be called upon to meet, we believe that rising to the occasion is possible, if we remain open to talking with each other and cultivating an open mind when it comes to understanding the big societal changes of our times.

The Open European Dialogue is possible thanks to the cooperation of our think tank partners and supporting foundations, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Stiftung Mercator, the King Baudouin Foundation, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, the Istituto Affari Internazionali, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and APROPOS – Advancing Process in Politics.

We look forward to continuing to work to promote dialogue in Europe and urge you to reach out if you would like to know more about our work. We’d be happy to hear from you.

Kind regards,

Head of the Open European Dialogue

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