6th Mercator European Dialogue in Rome – Europe: Is the System Broken?

On the weekend of 1-3 February 2019, 60 Members of Parliament from 21 different EU member states came together in Rome to listen, discuss and collect a variety of national perspectives on the state of and challenges to the current political system and the EU, addressing the question “Europe: Is the system broken?”

Although Rome presented itself from a rather rainy side, the discussions among Members of Parliament were far from grey and distant: Members of Parliament from a variety of member states such as Greece, Spain, Germany, France, Poland and Sweden from all ends of the political party spectrum gathered for an interparliamentary open dialogue to explore the cracks within the European system, better understand drivers of disintegration and dissatisfaction as well as reflect upon what keeps societies together.

Guided by high-level experts such as Nik Gowing (Author of “Thinking the Unthinkable”), Ivan Krastev (Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia), Anatol Itten (Disrupted Societies Institute), Klaus Boehnke (Jacobs University), Ashoka Mody (Visiting Professor in International Economic Policy at Princeton University), Judy Dempsey (Carnegie Europe) and Katrin Auel (Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna), the room was humming with conversations. After having dived into the cracks of the current system with Angelos Chryssogelos (Harvard University), Susana Coroado (Transparency International Portugal), Míriam Juan-Torres (More in Common), Orsola Costantini (Institute for New Economic Thinking), Wanda Wyporska (The Equality Trust), Sophia Gaston (Henry Jackson Society) and Gerald Knaus (European Stability Initiative), Claudia Chwalisz (OECD), Francesca Bria (City of Barcelona) and Juha Leppänen (DEMOS Helsinki) offered inspirational examples of system fixes.

The weekend was used to create a space for bringing together different national perspectives on rising public expectations, the speed of change and the implications for democracy and leadership facing such changes. Reflections and debates around initiatives for more participatory democracies, the tools for strengthening social cohesion and the empowerment of citizens, allowed participants to discuss insights on innovative system fixes in a fast-changing world – not only at the national and constituency level, but also on a European scale.

The open dialogue in the MED spirit of political exchange across different countries and political parties has led to the conclusion that many countries face the same issues but that there is a way forward embracing the similarities and differences we share, fostered through dialogue.


The 6th MED gave “a greater urgency to review my every day mechanisms for communicating and engaging with my electorate. Disengagement is dangerous for democracy and we all have to do better” – MP, member of the Mercator European Dialogue, 3 February 2019