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Collective Behaviour and the Future of Europe

Collective behaviour expert Iain Couzin is to participate in a high-level roundtable, alongside the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, to set out policy recommendations prior to the election of a new European Parliament in 2019.

How can European citizens stay connected with the future of Europe? That’s the objective of the 2018 State of Europe roundtable, held on October 11, that will gather influential figures to brainstorm on the future of Europe and to provide concrete recommendations on how to make Europe more relevant to its citizens.

Professor Iain Couzin, Chair of Biodiversity at the University of Konstanz and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, is one of 40 confirmed participants at the invite-only event that involves sitting and former prime ministers, members of Parliament,  CEOs, NGO leaders, European Commissioners, influencers, top journalists and European Young Leaders.

Participants at the 2018 event include European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker; German minister of defence, Ursula von der Leyen; Secretary General of the European Parliament, Klaus Welle; former Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti; European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas; Editor BBC World Service, Dawood Azami; and Politics and Social Affairs Columnist at the Guardian, Polly Toynbee.

Taking place months before the election of a new European Parliament in 2019, this year’s State of Europe aims to shape a set of concrete recommendations for the incoming EU leadership. The event will be the culmination of the 12-month #EuropeMatters project, which brings together business leaders, policymakers, civil society representatives and citizens to co-design a Europe that still matters in 2030.

Discussions on October 11 will focus on six areas defining the future of Europe: ageing population; disruptive technologies including digitisation and AI; the rise of emerging markets and their impact on the competitiveness of EU businesses; migration and urban concentration; resource depletion and climate change; and the return of geopolitics – trade wars and tax competition.

Bringing his expertise in cutting-edge science on voting behaviour and AI technologies to bear on debating the future of Europe, Professor Couzin will co-chair one of the scheduled table discussions in the closing session ‘How do we make Europe matter?’ and lead a discussion of leadership, voting and social influence.

“Collective behaviour plays a critical role in every aspect of our lives," says Professor Couzin. "Every decision we make involves past or present social influence, and group decision-making is the hallmark of effective and democratic governance.”

“Online social networks have fundamentally changed the way we influence each other’s beliefs and opinions. It opens up possibilities for broader representation, but also is susceptible to manipulation, and so it’s critical that we consider collective behaviour when debating how we can best work towards a strong, forward-thinking and united Europe”.