The FEPS Next Left National Roundtables were launched as an idea towards the end of 2009. The primary objective has been to ensure coherence between the respective national and the European debate on the renewal of social democracy.
Among others, the National Roundtables took place in: Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, Gent, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Riga, Stockholm, Sofia, Warsaw, Lisbon and Ljubljana. They have featured around 400 different speakers, a number of written contributions and enabled involvement of about 3500 participants in total. In average FEPS Next Left Research Programme hosts six National Roundtable debates a year.
From the beginning, the approach has been not to impose any strict format, but to identify the best scheme and the most adequate theme through an exchange with the hosting member foundations. This has been a guarantee that the diversity of methods used by the respective partners would be preserved, while also the attention of the FEPS Next Left would be drawn to the issues that not always had already been deliberated upon within the pan-European dimension.
At the same time, such meetings allowed also disseminating the FEPS Next Left Research Programme findings and engaging in conversation with numerous personalities, who would often then join and with their ideas
> 14th-15th March (Barcelona, Spain) – “Building Welfare Societies” was the overarching theme of the FEPS Next Left National Round Table and Focus Group meeting. The event was crucial from the perspective of the FEPS Next Left Research Programme, as it inaugurated a new cycle of research and debates. The topic reflected therefore one of the three main priorities for 2014.
> 7th April (Rome, Italy) – ‘More Europe vs No Europe: Europarties and Euroscepticism in the 2014 European Elections’. This event was jointly organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Fondazione Italianeuropei.
> 11th April (Lisbon, Portugal) – “Building Participatory Welfare Societies” was the overarching theme of the FEPS Next Left National Round Table, which with the support of Res Publica took place in Lisbon. Following the successful event that took place at the University of Lisbon a year before, the FEPS Next Left – ResPublica activity was once again designed to enabled a conversation at the crucial junctions between politicians, academics and civil society. With over 150 participants included, many present at this round refered to the meeting as an already established tradition and a certain reference point in that sense.
> 22nd September (Manchester, United Kingdom) – Labour’s Next Majority? Winning from the Left after the Great Crisis. This fringe follows from the European elections as we are now looking across the left in Europe and how Labour can win in the General elections next May. In an atmosphere of rising inequalities there are growing insecurities, especially between the middle class. Labour needs to appeal to these voters with credible strategies for economic and state welfare management.
With the European Union entering the national public spheres on one hand, and with the European Elections already at the horizon on the other, several national foundations expressed their wish to organize the FEPS Next Left National Round Tables in 2013. Next to the objectives traditionally related to these events, there were two new added. First of all, there was an ambition to cooperate with the foundations and think tanks, which have not yet hosted any FEPS Next Left activity. Secondly, in order to even further increase the exchange between the Focus Group and the participants of the National Round Tables, this year two out of four meetings of the NL FG were scheduled as “back to back” events with them.
> 18th January (Rome, Italy) – The FEPS Next Left event “Democratic Legitimacy and Political Leadership in the European Union towards 2014 elections” was organised with the support of Italianieuropei and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Office in Rome.
> 9th – 11th May (Barcelona, Spain) – Roundtable ‘Framing a new narrative‘. The FEPS Next Left “Dialogue of Dialogues” symposium, which organised with the support of Rafael Campalans Foundation and Renner Institut, as also in the partnership with IGLP Harvard Law School and Pompeu Fabra University incorporated the requested National Round Table. Programme
> 26th – 28th May (Lisbon, Portugal) – “Next Left and the Social Movements: for a New Social Contract” was the Next Left event organised by FEPS together with Renner Institut and ResPublica and hosted respectively at the PS Portugal Headquarters and at the University of Lisbon.
> 5th July (Zürich, Switzerland) – The meeting was organized, following the earlier FEPS and SPS conversation regarding a common event that would enable to find junction between the renewal of social democracy debates in the EU and Switzerland respectively. The workshop was devoted to the question of “Industrial Democracy”.
> 23rd September (Brighton, United Kingdom) – As in previous years, FEPS within its Next Left Research Programme held together with Fabian Society a fringe debate at the Labour Party Conference. It was devoted to “Message for Europe: Building for 2014”.
> 23rd September (Brighton, United Kingdom) – Traditionally, FEPS within its Next Left Research Programme held together with Policy Network a fringe debate at the Labour Party Conference.
> 29th September – 1st October (Warsaw, Poland) – “Next Left: Towards Welfare Societies” organised with the support of The Amicus Europae Foundation and Centrum Im. Ignacego Daszyńskiego. Following the successful pattern from Lisbon, also this event was foreseen to merge the meeting of the FEPS Next Left Focus Group and the “National Round Table”
> 8th – 9th December (Riga, Latvia) – “Next Left: Constructing Welfare Society” This national round table was organized following the earlier successful tradition of the cooperation between FEPS and BSF within the scope of the Next Left Research Programme. The event envisaged one-day exchange, which would gather the representatives from the think tanks of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia; as also the experts involved in other FEPS Next Left networks.
With the subsequent elections in Europe, the situation of social democracy altered. Many of the PES member parties managed to overcome the earlier electoral defeats and were returning to the governments, while a number of others were preparing and hoping to do so soon. In that context, many asked questions if there was indeed a potential for social democracy to realise the ambitious, alternative and profoundly reviewed agenda. The worry was that the scarcity of economic and financial resources would be overwhelming, which would then translate into certain entrapment and incapacity to mark the difference fro m the conservative rule. With that concern, the search for concrete proposals enhanced and herewith also the number of requests for hosting the FEPS Next Left National Round Tables increased. Among organised ones were:
> 30th March (Riga, Latvia) – it was the event organized together with BSF (Freedom and Solidarity Foundation). The theme of the meeting was “Next Left: Progressive values as an electoral argument – Can an ideological appeal mobilize civic support in Baltic States?” – and it gathered 40 academics, politicians and experts from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
> 12th May (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) – This event “What’s left”, put together with Fabian Society aimed to outline the vision and policy agenda needed to renew and reinvigorate Scottish centre-left politics. It highlighted and built upon the consensus that the left needs to articulate a distinctive vision for Scotland based on values rather than independence.
> 30th June (London, United Kingdom) – “Labour’s Next Majority”, which was a Fabian Society – FEPS Next Left Summer Conference gathered over 200 participants, who followed panel debates on: Fighting political apathy; Effective methods of campaigning; Strategic preparations towards 2014 and 2015 elections.
> 2nd October (Manchester, United Kingdom) – On the fringes of the Labour Party Conference, the FEPS Next Left – Fabian Society breakfast meeting “Rebuilding the European Left” was organised.
> 2nd October (Manchester, United Kingdom) – As in 2011, FEPS and Policy Network held a public fringe event at the fringe of the Labour Party Conference, which session “The state of the left: Labour lessons from across Europe” was embedded in the ongoing cooperation between FEPS Next Left – and Policy Network / Wiardi Beckman Stichting “Amsterdam Process”.
> 17th October (Sofia, Bulgaria) – This national round table “Growth, employment and welfare – European policies and national solutions” was held in cooperation with the ISI (Institute for Social Integration). It gathered over 150 participants and was inaugurated by speeches of: Sergei Stanishev (President of BSP and of the PES) and Alfred Gusenbauer (Chair of the FEPS Next Left).
Within the course of 2011, there were 5 FEPS Next Left National Round Tables held. The number is smaller than the figure from the previous year, which is due to the fact that some of the proposals initially aiming at organising the “National Round Tables” evolved towards “High Level Seminars”.
> 15th January (London, United Kingdom) – Next Left: What is the alternative (with the kind support of Fabian Society)
> 11th March (Riga, Latvia) – Viability of progressive politics in Europe an Baltic States (with the kind support of Freedom and Solidarity Foundation)
> 25th September (Liverpool, United Kingdom) – Fighting the conservative zeitgeist: Leadership in European social democracy (with the kind support of Policy Network)