Celebrating more than a decade of thought-provoking discussions, the 2024 edition of CEPS Ideas Lab returned rejuvenated and reimagined over two days from 4 to 5 March. For its 11th edition, CEPS went back to basics with a key focus on what is it that makes Ideas Lab unique – presenting innovative ideas that spur European policymaking forward and help CEPS to fulfil its guiding mantra: to think ahead for Europe (and the world).

Alongside hard-hitting plenary sessions featuring high-level speakers from academia, institutions and the private sector, we organised 24 dynamic, interactive closed-door sessions and mostly without the use of slides or other audiovisual supports. 7 of these 24 sessions were dedicated to brand new ideas to be considered by policymakers, including the new EU leaders that will begin their mandates towards the end of 2024. The result was unprecedented levels of dynamism in our conversations, and sparks of absolute creativity.

Each idea presented was led by a promoter based on previous research, which had already been summarised into a CEPS Expert Commentary and made available to the audience before each session. 

Like last year, we organised an evening event at Bozar. This year’s debate focused on the upcoming European Parliament elections, and on the evolving concept of European identity. The debate included the participation of five Members of the European Parliament, as well as renowned academics.

With so much policy designed in Brussels for the EU – and the world – CEPS ideas Lab fills a gap in providing a platform for original thinking on the many challenges facing today’s world.

Karel Lannoo


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Andrea Renda

Director of Research

This year’s edition was pivotal for us. We covered an impressive number of topical issues and experimented with a new format, providing ample space for researchers, both young and experienced, from CEPS and beyond, to present their ideas in deeply interactive sessions. Post-Ideas Lab, we’re invigorated and confident that we can make this event an engine of policy innovation in the years ahead


An EU Commissioner for Implementation and Enforcement​​
Launching an 'AI moonshot' to develop a European large language model
Getting EU enlargement back on track
Finally fixing the EU-US privacy quarrel – with PETs
To increase EU competitiveness, civil law is one of the EU's 'hidden treasures'
Rapidly including the Western Balkans into the EU ETS
Strengthening participatory democracy in the EU with a permanent Citizens' Assembly


Safeguarding democracy

What future for EU industrial policy?

Scenarios for the future governance of AI

Hadja Lahbib
Behind democracy lies hidden values.
Ricardo Hausmann
There is no such thing as smart specialisation – only smart diversification.
Marija Pejčinović Buric
When we talk about security, it's about democratic security. We [The Council of Europe] don't deal with defence but what we do is preventive.
Valdis Dombrovskis
Open, sustainable and autonomous are the three keywords in the EU's economic security toolbox.
Maroš Šefčovič
If you see something in our legislative programme that makes your life hard, that causes technology block – let us know... we need more private investment, more private funding.


•  Previous attempts at participatory democracy in the EU have faced challenges, but these can be overcome by including diverse voices, transparently addressing hard political questions, and providing expert education on topics to be discussed.
• Visibility, transparency, and managing expectations are crucial for the success of citizens assemblies and their potential for long-term social impact.
• Geopolitical momentum should be leveraged to advance the EU enlargement process, with bold action and a clear perspective on the next steps, including the setting of intermediate milestones.
• Reaffirming commitment to the Western Balkans must include addressing issues such as stimulating political will and
effective communication about integration and its benefits.
• A staged accession model allows for the gradual integration of sectors into the single market, which are anchored in formal negotiation processes and connected to comprehensive reforms in areas such as public administration and the rule of law.
• Leaders of candidate countries must actively pursue reforms and engage with the EU, as well as utilise their available tools to address Euroscepticism and
ensure progress.

  • Peace, defence, and migration are the top priorities for European voters, above all other issues, including climate.
  • The future of the pro-European coalition in the Parliament is in question – can it adapt by integrating its less enthusiastic, more Eurosceptic members?
  • Prebunking (creating mental immunity against misleading arguments) could be used, as part of larger long-term strategy, to tackle the most prevalent misleading narratives.
  • Work to prevent misinformation, however, needs to look beyond citizens’ simply lacking awareness of key issues and their intricacies.
  • Identifying the core of the misinformation problem, and the right platform on which to fight it, remain key issues for election integrity.
  • Democratic security starts with the political engagement of citizens, but also requires multi-level transparency and freedom from foreign interference.
  • The primary priority for the EU today is stabilising Ukraine and ending the war. This requires a united EU in its support for Ukraine. Stabilising the Western Balkans is also important.
  • Ukraine and the EU need to move away from relying on the US in terms of its defence and reconstruction capabilities, especially given that future support for Ukraine from across the Atlantic cannot be guaranteed.
  • Left-leaning citizens are the most in-favour of a European common defence policy.
  • The value of the WTO remains undisputed, but its current reforms are unsatisfactory. Structural change is needed to increase flexibility and thus facilitate progress.
  • There was consensus that ‘friendshoring’ would lead to uncertain systems and welfare losses for all involved parties – Europe should continue with its support for the multilateral system.
  • Private companies are already adapting to risks by increasing stock and diversifying supply chains, moving towards a ‘just in place’ strategy rather than ‘just in time.’
  • Concerns were raised about the inherently political nature of ‘friendshoring,’ as this leads to instability, uncertainty, and difficulty in defining who qualifies as a ‘friend.’
  • The current multilateral system provides flexibility for countries and firms that no other system can offer.
  • Supply shocks, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and energy price fluctuations, were the primary drivers of inflation over the past couple of years, alongside demand-side effects from fiscal expansion and monetary policies.
  • Central banks, including the ECB, demonstrated their commitment to inflation targets through timely action, albeit with some initial delays in reacting to inflation. However, it is now broadly recognised that the ECB has now got inflation under control.
  • An effective and forward-looking industrial policy requires working out what industries need to make use of technology, to keep adoption and skills up with the development of (green) technology.
  • To close the technology gap there needs to be dialogue with varied stakeholders, particularly cross-sector knowledge exchange.
  • Historically labour market policy discussions have centred on unemployment – now they’re on labour shortages.
  • There is a substantial evolution in the labour market due to climate change and the digital transition, as well as an aging population. The effects of this will be felt differently across sectors, regions, socioeconomic groups, and types of work.
  • More wide-reaching and coordinated policies, funds, and technical support are needed. The goal is not only to get people (re)skilled for the changing needs of the labour market, but also to get people onside.
  • Challenges remain in adequately measuring the skills transition, addressing job dissatisfaction, and securing the necessary funding.
  • For a just transition, policy solutions need to be coordinated, including standardising regulations, proactive reskilling initiatives, and engaging social partners to garner support and address the socioeconomic dimensions of job creation and quality.
  • To ensure the Green Deal is competitive is challenging due to diverse interpretations of what the Green Deal is and a lack of conceptual clarity. This means redefining competitiveness beyond traditional notions.
  • There is the need for a strong marketing tool to bridge the narrative gap and effectively communicate the benefits of the Green Deal to diverse audiences.
  • Policymakers should establish flexible governance frameworks that balance social equity, environmental protection, and economic incentives.
  • Tax systems can be aligned with net zero goals through mechanisms such as green taxes and tax incentives, although current systems often include incentives misaligned with environmental objectives, such as those for fossil fuel use.
  • Emissions taxes, while challenging due to cost implications and their potential impact on vulnerable groups, can be combined with cost-reducing measures and revenue allocation strategies to facilitate a smoother transition to cleaner assets.
  • Carbon pricing is crucial for climate policy, driving differentiation between clean and dirty alternatives, but must be complemented by other policy instruments to address global emissions reduction efforts and the prevention of carbon leakage.
  • A European Large Language Model (LLM) is deemed essential for ensuring control, leadership, and trustworthiness in AI.
  • Challenges in LLM implementation include biases in data sources and Europe’s dependence on capabilities developed outside the region, thus there needs to be strategic planning and dedicated infrastructure development.
  • Emphasis should be placed on fostering trustworthy AI and leveraging Europe’s existing strengths.
  • Concerns about technology dependence and governance to ensure responsible and value-driven innovation need to be addressed.
  • There is a mismatch of EU-US policies on the data protection side, with no clear way to solve the transatlantic data transfer dilemma.
  • The proposal for a EUR 10 billion EU tech fund to invest in research, innovation, and digital infrastructure has been gaining traction, backed by several EU Member States.
  • Defining and implementing ‘sovereignty’ in the digital era requires clarity and alignment with existing initiatives and state aid frameworks.
  • Calls for reframing sovereignty with a human rights approach and ensuring equal access and opportunities for all Member States underscore the broader challenges that the proposed tech fund would face to become operational.
  • There has been progress in the EU about addressing rule of law backsliding but there is still a way to go – implementation and enforcement need to be strengthened
  • The rule of law, democracy, and fundamental rights should be more clearly linked in EU policy. To safeguard one requires the protection of all three.
  • Responsibility shifting in asylum policy is dangerous and goes against the Article Two establishment of a community based on EU values.
  • The New Pact on Asylum and Migration does not solve current problems affecting the lives of individuals seeking asylum, as people continue to experience violence and death during the process.
  • Across justice and home affairs issues, there remains a need for European unity on the idea of a common good, solidarity beyond borders, and for transparent governance.




Will the European elections of 6-9 June 2024 be a test for the European institutions? These five-yearly elections will allocate 720 seats in the European Parliament to help guide EU decision-making. They will be crucial elections, especially after the current European Commission’s huge legislative output and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many argue that European values themselves are at stake. Will these elections finally see voters casting their ballot on truly pan-European issues? Or will they once again be 27 de facto national elections decided only on narrow national issues?

Professor of European Studies at Oxford University and renowned journalist, CEPS’ Director of Research Andrea Renda, CEPS Researcher Sophia Russack, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Chair in Global Affairs School of Transnational Governance, EUI, and moderator Meabh McMahon of Euronews, spoke about these issues (and more) to a packed Bozar hall following the first day of Ideas Lab.

Other participants included Damian Boeselager MEP, Domenec Ruiz Devesa MEP, Daniel Freund MEP, Danuta Hübner MEP and Eva Maria Poptcheva MEP.

Elia Tello

Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S Mission to the EU

Francesco Gazzoletti

Managing Partner, FortyEight Brussels

Birgit Sippel

MEP, S&D Party, European Parliament

Didier Reynders

Commissioner for Justice, European Commission

Vasileios Rizos

Research Fellow and Head of Sustainable Resources and Circular Economy, CEPS

André Månberger

Associate Senior Lecturer, Lund University

Wouter Ghyoot

Vice President Government Affairs, Umicore

Hildegard Bentele


Jana Plananska

Member of the Board of Advisors, Norge Mining Ltd

Christian Egenhofer

Associate Senior Research Fellow, CEPS

Věra Jourová

Commissioner for Values and Transparency, European Commission

Catharina Sikow-Magny

Director, DG Energy, European Commission

James Matthys-Donnadieu

Chief Officer Customers, Markets, System, Elia Group

Markus Ferber


Axel Voss

MEP – JURI Committee member, European Parliament

Anand Menon

Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London

Andrea Renda

Senior Research Fellow, CEPS

Rosa Castro

Senior Policy Manager, EPHA

Anders Nordstrom

Swedish Ambassador for Global Health, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Jonas Grimheden

Fundamental Rights Officer, Frontex

Petra Bard

Professor at Radboud University, Research Centre for State and Law (SteR), Nijmegen; Associate Professor at ELTE School of Law, Budapest; Research Affiliate at CEU Democracy Institute

Thorsten Beck

Director of the Florence School of Banking and Finance and Professor of Financial Stability, European University Institute (EUI)

Edouard Bourcieu

Chief Economist, DG Trade, European Commission

Slavina Spasova

Senior Researcher, European Social Observatory (OSE)

Martin Spolc

Head of Unit, DG FISMA, European Commission

Alicia Garcia Herrero

Chief Economist Asia Pacific, Groupe BPCE – Global Markets Research, Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking

Elina Ribakova

Deputy Chief Economist, IIF

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen

Director-General for Communication, European Commission

Veronika Movchan

Academic Director, Head of the Center for Economic Studies, Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting (IER)

Ralf Schneider

Group CIO, Allianz SE

Stefani Weiss

Senior Expert, Bertelsmann Stiftung

Jacek Truszczyński

Deputy Head of ‘International Value Chains’, DG GROW, European Commission

Richard Grieveson

Executive Director, wiiw

Niall Bohan

Director of Borrowing and Lending, DG Budget, European Commission

Victor Stolzenburg

Research Economist, World Trade Organisation

Céline Kauffmann

Head of the Entrepreneurship, SME and Tourism Division, OECD

Adrian Wende

Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna

Janine Dobelmann

Head of Government Affairs EU, NXP Semiconductors

Georgina Wright

Senior Fellow and Director of Europe Programme, Institut Montaigne

Jules Besnainou

Executive Director, Cleantech for Europe 

Kimberly Feldewerth

Policy Manager – Europe, The HALO Trust

Linda Zeilina

CEO, International Sustainable Finance Centre (ISFC)

Prof. Rym Ayadi

President, EMEA

Estelle Masse

Senior Policy Analyst and Global Data Protection Lead, AccessNow, EDRI

Alexander Stubb

Director of the School of Transnational Governance, EUI

Bea Cantillon

Professor, University of Antwerp

Michael O’Flaherty

Director, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights – FRA

Boldizsár Nagy

Associate Professor, Central European University

Meltem Ineli Ciger

Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and an Associate Professor at the Suleyman Demirel University Faculty of Law

Cecilia Vejby Andersen

Head of Unit, Europe & Dublin, Asylum Department, DRC

Stefan Maier

Head of Policy and Legal Support Unit, Representation for EU Affairs, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands, UNHCR

John Morijn

Chair in law and politics in international relations & Assistant professor of European human rights law, University of Groningen

Margrethe Vestager

Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Commissioner for Competition, European Commission

Dr. Benedikta von Seherr-Thoß

European External Action Service Managing Director for CSDP and Crisis Response

Valsamis Mitsilegas

Professor, University of Liverpool

Nicholas Nelson

Senior Advisor, CEPS; Principal Researcher and Adjunct Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

former NATO Secretary General

H.E. Julianne Smith

US Ambassador to NATO

Ondrej Burkacky

Senior Partner, Senior Partner, McKinsey

Catherine Woollard

Director, European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)

Milena Lazarević

Programme Director, European Policy Centre Belgrade

Arancha González Laya

Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs

Marija Pejčinović Burić

Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe

Jorge Núñez Ferrer

Senior Research Fellow, CEPS

Finbarr Bermingham

Europe Correspondent, SCMP

Berta Mizsei

Research Assistant, CEPS

Davide Colombi

Research Assistant, CEPS

roberto cortinovis

Roberto Cortinovis

Researcher, CEPS

Sergio Carrera

Senior Research Fellow and Head of Justice and Home Affairs unit, CEPS

Milan Nic


Dylan Macchiarini Crosson

Researcher, CEPS

Mikko Huotari

Executive Director, MERICS

Tinatin Akhvlediani

Research Fellow and Head of the Financial Markets and Institutions Unit, CEPS

Sviatlana Tsichanouskaya

Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus

Andreas Kopp

Senior Research Fellow, CEPS

Lorenzo Pupillo

Associate Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Cybersecurity@CEPS Initiative

Rosanna Fanni

Researcher & TTD Coordinator, CEPS

Daniel Gros

Distinguished Fellow, CEPS

Kalypso Nicolaidis

Chair in International Affairs, School of Transnational Governance, EUI

Christine Würfel

Head of Sustainability, Raiffeisen International

Michael Osborne

CTO for IBM Quantum Safe IBM Research Division , Zurich

Sabrina Maniscalco

Professor of Quantum Information, Computing and Logic, University of Helsinki

Ivailo Kalfin

Executive Director, Eurofound

Brando Benifei


Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook

Executive Vice President/Senior Adviser, Bertelsmann Stiftung

Kathrine Fog

SVP Head of Energy Strategy & Policy, Hydro

Roberto García Martínez

CEO, Eurobattery Minerals

Marc Sadler

Program Leader, Sustainable Development, World Bank

Luca Giansanti

Head of European Government Affairs, Eni

Sofia Romansky

CEPS Young Thinker

Felicitas Murat

CEPS Young Thinker

Simon Van Hoeve

CEPS Young Thinker

Nubia Rodrigues

CEPS Young Thinker

Sarah Holton

Head of Prices and Costs Division, ECB

Don Graves

United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Dora Xia

Senior Economist, Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

Jan Zielonka

Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Venice, Cá Foscari

Hien Vu

Associate Researcher, at the Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation and the Digital Economy Unit (GRID), CEPS

Fatima Abba

Senior Programme Officer, Global Health Security & Pandemic Preparedness Advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Assaad Saab

Senior Advisor, Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Energie (OME)

Anna Osypchuk

Director for Research, School for Policy Analysis, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Leonardo Meeus

Director, Florence School of Regulation (FSR) and the Loyola de Palacio Chair on European Energy Regulation and Policy in the Robert Schuman Centre

Dora Blanchet

Head of the sustainable finance unit, ESMA

Dennis Snower

President of the Global Solutions Initiative and Professor of Macroeconomics and Sustainability at the Hertie School

David O'Sullivan

International Special Envoy for the Implementation of EU Sanctions

Jeff Swartz

Vice President, Low Carbon Solutions, bp trading & shipping

Lourdes Acedo Montoya

Head of Unit for MFF and economic budgetary analysis, DG Budget, European Commission

Vicente Hurtado Roa

Head of unit of CBAM and green taxation at DG TAXUD, European Commission

Florian Dorn

Director EconPol Europe, ifo Institute

Irina Orssich

Head of Sector, AI Policy Development and Coordination, European Commission

Caterina Rodelli

EU Policy Analyst, Access Now

Jan Rempala

Adviser, BusinessEurope

Karine Perset

Head of the AI Unit, OECD

Stephanie Pope

EU Migration Policy Advisor, Oxfam International

Emily O’Reilly

European Ombudsman

Suzana Carp

Deputy Executive Director, Cleantech for Europe

Gustav Kalbe

Acting Director, Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure, DG Connect, European Commission

Christian Kastrop

Honorary Professor of Public Finance, Fiscal Rules and International Institutions, Freie Universität Berlin

Maria Martin-Prat

Deputy Director General, DG TRADE, European Commission

Eulalia Rubio,

Senior Research Fellow, Jacques Delors Institute

Ilze Tralmaka

Senior Legal and Policy Officer, Fair Trials (FTE)

Joanna Apap

Member of the Strategy and Coordination Unit, DG EPRS, European Parliament

Michele LeVoy

Director, PICUM

James Moran

Associate Senior Research Fellow, CEPS

Jos Delbeke

EIB Chair, School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Florence

Nigel Howorth

Partner and Head of Clifford Chance’s Global Environment Group and Environment & Climatic Trading Group

Lieve Van Woensel

Former Foresight Adviser, European Parliament

Georgia Skouma

Security & Privacy legal director, Delloitte

Fredrik Löjdquist

Director, Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies

Alex Brazier

Managing Director, Deputy Head of the Blackrock Investment Institute (BII)

Cinzia Alcidi

Director of Research, CEPS

Dragoș Tudorache

MEP – Committee on Civil Liberties

Lucilla Sioli

Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry, DG CNECT, European Commission

Eva Maydell

MEP – ITRE Committee member

Cecilia Malmström

Former European Commissioner for Trade

Lawrence Meredith

Director, DG NEAR, European Commission

Natacha Kazatchkine

Head of Unit – Civic space, Rule of law advocacy, Open Society Foundations

Katharina Gnath

Senior Project Manager, Program Europe’s Future, Bertelsmann Stiftung

Damian Boeselager


Jonathan Barth

Co-founder and Policy Director, ZOE – Institut für zukunftsfähige ökonomien

Milan Elkerbout

Research Fellow and Head of the climate policy programme, CEPS

Gerassimos Thomas

Director General, DG TAXUD, European Commission

Lars Zetterberg

Director of Mistra Carbon Exit, IVL

Erik Jones

Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute

John Ryan

Acting Deputy Director-General, DG SANTE, European Commission

Heather Grabbe

Senior Adviser, Open Society Foundations

Emilio de Capitani

Visiting Professor – Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London

Catherine Collin

Advisor to the acting Managing Director – EIB Global

Jiří Švarc

Head of Unit, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission

Rubini Gropas

Deputy Head, European Commission and Visiting Professor, College of Europe

Aaron Rosa

Foresight Researcher, Fraunhofer ISI

Giulio di Blasi

Member of the Cabinet, Commissioner Ylva Johannson, European Commission

Anjum Shabbir

 Associate Researcher, CEPS

Anna Buchta

Head of Policy & Consultation Unit, EDPS

Lina Vosyliute

Research Fellow, CEPS

Arturas Piliponis

Digital Leader for EU institutions, EY

Ignazio Angeloni

Part-time Professor, Robert Schuman Center, European University Institute

Adeline Hinderer

Head of Unit Far East, DG Trade, European Commission

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield


Ambassador Didier Chambovey

Head of the Swiss Permanent Mission, WTO and EFTA

Peter Sandler

DG Trade, European Commission

Arnoldas Pranckevičius

Ambassador, Permament Representation of Lithuania to the European Union

Jens Eskelund

Vice President of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China

Rebecca Christie

Europe columnist for Reuters Breakingviews

Eloise Todd

Co-founder, Pandemic Action Network

Carl Dolan

Director, OSEPI

Birte Schorpion

Europe Regional Advocacy Coordinator, Danish Refugee Council (DRC)

Isabell Hoffmann

Isabell Hofmann

Senior Expert European Integration, Bertelsmann Stiftung