Hambach Democracy Dialogue 2022

Strengthening the Resilience of Democracy in Europe

Martin Schulz

After training as a bookseller, Martin Schulz opened his own bookstore and specialized in political literature. He was elected as mayor of his hometown of Würselen (North Rhine-Westphalia) in 1987. He held this position for three terms. In 1994 Martin Schulz became a Member of the European Parliament, where he served as Chairman of the SPD Group, and later as Chairman of the Socialist Group as well as the Progressive Alliance of Social Democrats (S&D). In 2012 he was elected President of the European Parliament and was then re-elected in 2014. In 2015 Martin Schulz was awarded the Charlemagne Prize for his special achievements in strengthening the European Parliament and democratic legitimacy in the EU. After working for the European Parliament for 23 years, Martin Schulz was elected Federal Party Chairman of the SPD in 2017 and became the party’s official chancellor candidate for the 2017 German federal elections. Since 2017, he has been a Member of the 19th German Bundestag, a deputy member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a deputy member of the Committee on European Union Affairs. In December 2020, he was elected President of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Kurt Beck

Kurt Beck was the prime minister of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate from 1994 to 2013. He was for many years the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in that state, and the party’s national chairman from 2006 to 2009. He was the chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung from 2013 to 2020. He is the chairman of the advisory board of the Stiftung Hambacher Schloss (Hambach Castle Foundation).

Jacki Davis

Jacki Davis is a leading commentator and analyst on European Union affairs. She is an experienced journalist, speaker and moderator of high-level events; a regular broadcaster on television and radio news; and a Senior Adviser to the Brussels-based think tank, the European Policy Centre. She has been based in Brussels for nearly 30 years, and was previously the EPC’s Communications Director.

Ralph Szepanski

Ralph Szepanski is the host of the “heute” news programme on the German ZDF channel and also sometimes presents the “hallo Deutschland” programme. After studying literature, linguistics and psychology in Bonn, he was an unpaid trainee in the Bonn office of the DFA (German Television News Agency) in Bonn. He has also reported for Pro7, RTL, Sat1, Tele5 and n-tv.


Wolfgang Merkel

Prof Dr Wolfgang Merkel was the director of the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and also Professor of Political Sciences at Berlin’s Humboldt University from 2004 to 2020. He is a visiting professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and a Fellow at the Democracy Institute of the Central European University in Budapest. He had a decisive influence on the debate on system transformation, democratisation processes and the crisis of democracy.

Tessza Udvarhelyi

Tessza Udvarhelyi, PhD is co-founder of “The City is for All” and the School of Public Life in Hungary and is currently the head of the Office of Community Participation at the Municipality of the 8th district in Budapest. She studied Cultural Anthropology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and completed her PhD at the City University of New York. In 2016 she was selected as the 36th Hungarian Ashoka fellow and in 2020-2020 she was an Obama Scholar at Columbia University.

Gabriele Bischoff

Gabriele Bischoff has been elected as Member of the European Parliament in May 2019. She serves as Vice-Chair of the Committee for Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and as full member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and Substitute of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). In her capacity as AFCO Vice Chair and member of the EP delegation to the “Conference on the Future of Europe” she is dedicated to ensuring a broad participation of citizens within this reform process. Between 2008-2014, Bischoff was Head of the European Policy Department at the Federal Executive of DGB. She had been the President of the Workers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee from October 2015 until March 2019.

Ivo Belet

Ivo Belet is Cabinet Expert with European Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica, responsible for Democracy and Demography.  He previously was a Member of the European Parliament (from 2004 until 2019), and before that he worked as a journalist and deputy editor in chief with the Flemish public broadcaster VRT.  Ivo Belet has university degrees in philology and economics.

Jeanette Hofman

Jeanette Hofmann is a political scientist and head of the Politics of Digitalization research group at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). She is the founding director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and Professor of Internet Politics at Berlin’s Free University. She also, as Principal Investigator, leads two research groups on “Digitalisation and Democracy” and “Quantification and Social Regulation” at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society. She is currently engaged in research into the history of German policy on digital networks, the regulation of platforms, and digital democracy.

Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria is the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund, CDP Venture Capital. She is Honorary Professor in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL in London, and a member of the European Commission New European Bauhaus High-level Roundtable set up by the President of the European Commission. She is also a member of the European Commission High level Expert Group on Economic and Societal Impact of Research and Innovation (ESIR). Francesca Bria is leading the DECODE project on data sovereignty in Europe, she is a Senior Adviser to the United Nation (UN-Habitat) on digital cities and digital rights and she is the former Chief Digital Technology and Innovation Officer for the City of Barcelona in Spain. Francesca has a PhD in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Imperial College, London and MSc on Digital Economy from the University of London, Birkbeck

Paul Nemitz

Paul Nemitz is the Principal Advisor in the DG for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission. He was appointed in April 2017, following a 6-year appointment as Director for Fundamental Rights and Citizen’s Rights in the same Directorate General. As Director, Nemitz led the reform of Data Protection legislation in the EU, the negotiations of the EU – US Privacy Shield and the negotiations with major US Internet Companies of the EU Code of Conduct against incitement to violence and hate speech on the Internet. He is a Member of Commission for Media and Internet Policy of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Berlin and a visiting Professor of Law at the College of Europe in Bruges.

Jens Geier

Jens Geier has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2009. He is the head of the SPD-members of the European Parliament, member of the Industry, Research and Energy committee and substitute member of the Budget committee.
Before that, he gathered experience in real estate projects for the public sector with innova AG and Deloitte. He was a project manager and spokesperson at Projekt Ruhr GmbH and worked for the bureau of the SPD and the bureau of the regional SPD-branch for North Rhine-Westphalia. Jens Geier studied history, literature and political science at the Ruhr-University Bochum.

Matthias Kolb

Matthias Kolb has been the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s correspondent in Brussels since October 2018, covering issues related to foreign and security policy and the rule of law. He studied at the Deutsche Journalistenschule and has a degree in journalism from the Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich. In 2004, shortly after Lithuania joined the EU and NATO, he spent ten months in Vilnius under the Erasmus student programme, and then spent several years reporting on a freelance basis on the Baltic states and Eastern Europe. In 2012, he moved to Washington DC to cover the 2012 presidential elections as an online correspondent for SZ.de.

Katarina Barley

Katarina Barley has been a member of the European Parliament since 2019 and serves as one of its Vice-Presidents. She had previously been Germany’s Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection. From 2017 to 2018, she was the German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, additionally acting as Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. She was General Secretary of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 2015 to 2017 and a member of the party’s national executive from 2017 to 2019. She was a member of the German Bundestag from 2013 to 2019. She has a degree in law from the University of Marburg.

Věra Jourová

Věra Jourová is currently Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency and deals with democracy, rule of law, disinformation and media pluralism. From 2014 to 2019, she served as EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. In 2014, before arriving to the European Commission, Ms Jourová held the position of Minister for Regional Development in the Czech Republic. Previous to this, from 2006 to 2013, she worked in her own company as an international consultant on European Union funding, and was also involved in consultancy activities in the Western Balkans relating to the European Union Accession. She holds a Degree in Law (Mgr.) and a Master's degree (Mgr.) in the Theory of Culture from the Charles University, Prague.

Krzysztof Ruchniewicz

Professor Dr Krzysztof Ruchniewicz studied history and Eastern European history at the University of Wrocław, Saarland University, and the University of Marburg. He has been the Director of the Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies at the University of Wrocław since 2009. He has received numerous honours for his work for friendship between Germany and Poland and his related academic work, including the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Tomáš Kriššák

Tomáš Kriššák is a co-founder of the Confident Slovakia and Checkbot project, he is a local expert on information security and was involved in preparation of several media literacy seminars and programs aimed at reducing the impact of misinformation and other manipulations on the public. In the past he worked on projects aimed at reducing the radicalization of youth, he is the author of the educational project Slobodovo and currently he is representing Gerulata technologies, Slovak company focusing on information security and development of monitoring tools for various digital platforms.

Lutz Güllner

Lutz Güllner is Head of Division for Strategic Communications and Information Analysis in the European External Action Service. He leads a team of about 40 persons dealing with issues related to disinformation and foreign manipulative interference. In his work, he focuses on addressing disinformation threats for the EU and for the EU's neighbourhood region.

Carlotta Alfonsi

Carlotta Alfonsi is a policy analyst in the OECD’s Open Government Unit where she works on public communication and information ecosystems for better and more inclusive polices. She previously advised governments and NGOs on communication and advocacy. She holds a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree from the London School of Economics.

Norbert Neuser

Norbert Neuser is a Member of the European Parliament and deputy chairman of its Committee on Development. He is the European Parliament’s rapporteur on humanitarian aid, and also actively involved in development cooperation issues outside the parliament, including as chairman of the “Forum Eine Welt” in the Rhineland-Palatinate and a member of the board of the Global Fund.

Renate Tenbusch

Renate Tenbusch is director of the FES EU office in Brussels. She started her career with FES as project manager in the domestic department Forum Politics and Society at FES Berlin Headquarters in 2001. In 2002 she switched from the domestic to the international department and was posted as project manager to the FES South African office in Johannesburg. After that she headed the regional project South Asia from the FES office in New Delhi, India. Subsequently, as coordinator and desk officer in the Africa Department at FES Headquarters in Berlin, she supervised the trade union work in Sub-Saharan Africa and the national political advisory project South Africa. She then moved back to South Africa to take over the position as director of the FES South African office in Johannesburg.

Johanna Lutz

Johanna Lutz is head of the Office Democracy of the Future in Vienna of the “Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung” (FES). She previously worked for the FES in Brussels, where she also chaired the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) from 2018 to 2019. Before joining the FES, she worked for the SPD group in the state parliament of Brandenburg and for a member of the German Bundestag, and also edited Berliner Republik, a magazine for debate.

Brigitte Juchems

Brigitte Juchems is Head of the FES regional office for Rhineland Palatinate/Saarland.

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