Friends of Europe Unveils Plan for a Renewed Social Contract on Europe Day

"A Renewed Social Contract can act as the policy lever and methodology for managing crises; it can also provide the social glue to build trust amongst citizens, governments and the private sector (...)"
10th May, 2023

Recognising the shift in economics, politics and social realities, Friends of Europe proposes a renewal of the social contract as we know it. Today, on Europe Day, the Brussels-based think tank unveiled the rationale for their decade-long initiative for a Europe by 2030.

“A Renewed Social Contract,” commented Friends of Europe COO, Dharmendra Kanani, “can act as the policy lever and methodology for managing crises; it can also provide the social glue to build trust amongst citizens, governments and the private sector by redefining their roles, responsibilities and expectations in contributing to a good society.”

The social contract is a tacit pact between a society’s members that sets out common values and what’s expected of each other.

In the 20th century, wars and devastation birthed new government structures based on welfare and social protection. Today, over 70 years after the Schuman Declaration was signed, new challenges have emerged and created a more fragile Europe. The upcoming European Parliament elections will test the Union’s resilience.

“To protect against future risks, we must revive the connection between citizens and the EU,” Kanani said. “We need a Renewed Social Contract to challenge our traditional relationship with capital and meet climate targets. This requires fairer distributions of power and wealth, and active participation from all sectors. Let’s create an inclusive, sustainable and forward-thinking Europe.”

“The Renewed Social Contract needs governance, policies and actions that boost power-sharing, accountability, transparency and trust among everyone,” Kanani continued. “It’s the sole path to fair and inclusive change, peace, security and social progress in Europe, so we can keep up with the world and look after our 21st-century citizens.”

Friends of Europe will establish the Renewed Social Contract by facilitating policy discussions, citizen engagements and a broad coalition, which will include Friends of Europe’s Board of Trustees, European Young Leaders (EYL40), private sector partners, members, citizens networks, and other experts and knowledge partners.

As a facilitator and convener, Friends of Europe will bring together Europe's best and brightest from across sectors, demographics and ideological lines to generate innovative ideas and solutions.

Its citizen engagement platform, Debating Europe, will engage European citizens through a series of focus groups on high-priority issues, including the economy and cost-of-living crisis, Europe's role in the world and strategic autonomy, democracy and the rule of law, and the European Green Deal. The data collected from the focus groups will inform and test the work of Friends of Europe.

Debating Europe has also kickstarted its own area of expertise at Friends of Europe via the "Democracy" programme to assist with this implementation. “Liberal democracies are struggling to effectively manage emergent global challenges such as climate change and the advent of AI,” the platform says. “The decision-making tools they have inherited from the 19th or 20th century are no longer sufficient to govern today’s society, resulting in a lack of trust in policymakers and institutions, and a very real sense of alienation amongst citizens from the democratic process. This in turn is driving greater levels of polarisation leading to a lack of trust in each other.”

Friends of Europe is an independent think tank, seeking real solutions by transforming mindsets through the confrontation of ideas, breaking down silos between politicians, businesses and civil society.

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