The Ulysses Conference | 2018

European Democracy: an idea whose time has come?
Centro Cultural de Belém, 7 and 8 April, 2018 (curator: Rui Tavares, historian)

«There is one thing more powerful than all the world's armies – it is an idea whose time has come.»
(attributed to Victor Hugo)

Speakers of the panels here

Secure your place. Pick up the ticket at the ticket office of the CCB, starting on March 27, Tuesday.
You can also book your seat by phone (+351) 213612627 or by e-mail at and pick up the ticket on the same day.
The entry in the Round Tables presupposes a valid ticket for the day and will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Free admission subject to room stocking

The conferences at the Main Auditorium will have simultaneous translation from English to Portuguese and Portuguese to English.

It is our intention that the Ulysses Conferences will turn Lisbon into a centre for reflection on the major issues that are set to mark the European and global agenda, in keeping with the values associated with the figure of the city’s mythical founder: adventure, friendship, travel, hospitality and dialogue. Questions relating to human rights, in particular those of refugees and stateless persons, questions relating to globalisation and cosmopolitanism, and questions relating to the European Union and its member states will be among the main themes discussed at the Ulysses Conferences. These are aimed at a mixed audience, consisting of specialists and the general public, people from the arts and sciences, mere observers or participants, including both highly respected speakers and enthusiastic young people. Unlike other similar cycles of talks already held in this country, the idea is not to bring to Portugal the thinking that is currently taking place abroad, but to generate and radiate from Portugal thought that has a truly global relevance. In order to guarantee that the output generated by the reflections taking place at the Ulysses Conferences is not exhausted after the closure of each edition of the event, our aim is to stimulate the creation and publication of written or audiovisual material that will prolong its memory and to organise an essay competition open to young people that will similarly prolong the reflections of the Ulysses Conferences over future generations.

The theme for 2018
As a pilot scheme for the first edition of the Ulysses Conferences, we propose the organisation of an international conference, to be held on 7 and 8 April 2018, on the theme of “European Democracy: an idea whose time has come?”.
The topic is justified by the simultaneous launch of different processes of reflection on the future of the European Union: the White Paper on the future of the EU, launched by the European Commission at the commemorations of the Treaty of Rome in March 2017; the Bratislava Process, launched by the European Council following the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom; and the process of the “EU Democratic Conventions”, suggested by the French President Emmanuel Macron in recent speeches that he gave in Athens and Paris, promised for the first half of 2018 and which does not yet appear to have a fixed format. The holding of a Ulysses Conference that is dedicated to the theme of reforming the European Union thus has the dual advantage of allowing for Portuguese participation in a debate that risks taking place without us, while, at the same time, bringing to this same debate some of the most important European public intellectuals, in order to afford a greater range and much-needed boldness to the initiatives launched by the political decision-makers and by the Community institutions.

After more than ten years of different crises — the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty by the French and Dutch electorates in 2005 was immediately followed by the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the euro crisis of 2010-2011, and the so-called “refugee crisis” from 2015 onwards — the European Union has arrived at a crucial and decisive moment in its history: with its member states, it is a “club of democracies”, but only through the participation of its citizens will the EU become a genuine European Democracy. If it fails in this aim, the EU may very well fail to take advantage of this present moment in order to pause, take stock and rethink its position, ending up by falling once again into the throes of an existential crisis that runs the risk of being its last one.

The creation of a European Democracy is, however, a profoundly difficult question. For several centuries, philosophers, writers and visionaries, ranging from Erasmus of Rotterdam to Kant and Victor Hugo, have dreamt of founding a European republic, a federation of peaceful states or a cosmopolitan utopia and, in the latter case, a United States of Europe, the very idea that is “more powerful than all the world's armies” at the moment when “its time” has come. But what is a democracy? When do we know that we have ceased to be a democracy or that we have just become one? Or, as some have claimed, is it impossible to construct a democracy beyond the frontiers of the nation-state? If there is a right moment for holding this discussion that can salvage the European project, then that time is now, after two years in which the wave of national populism has appeared to be about to engulf any hope of international cooperation and in which a counter-wave in France and Germany seems to have left all Europeans waiting for a reform in their willingness to give the EU another chance.

This opportunity will have to be seized by us, simultaneously European citizens and citizens of the whole world, concerned with the cause of peace and human rights and committed to understanding and shaping the process of globalisation in order to correct its vices and injustices.

The structure
The two days of debates will be organised in such a way as to allow for a permanent interaction between the specialists or established speakers and the general public or the enthusiastic young people.

On each of the two days, there will be two plenary sessions held in a large auditorium, where some of the Portuguese and foreign thinkers who have most engaged in reflection on the European project will be given the chance to speak, together with interventions by artists, writers or politicians that will prevent the discussion from falling into the trap of becoming too technical.

Interspersed with the plenary sessions, we will have round table discussions centred mainly on the participation of young people, and at which specialists and foreign guests will largely play the role of catalysts in promoting discussion. The young people taking part in these round table discussions will be chosen through an essay competition to be held between January and March 2018, and they will also be entrusted with the mission of serving as rapporteurs for the plenary sessions and preparing a publication (in the form of a newspaper and/or a website) setting out the conference conclusions, to be launched a month after its completion, on Europe Day, 9 May 2018.

The work undertaken at the plenary sessions will lead to the drafting of a 2020 Charter setting out the twenty examples of public services and goods that the EU should guarantee to provide by the end of the 2020s (in fields such as civil and political, social, environmental and economic rights).

+ Speakears | Biographies

Alberto Alemanno
A legal scholar and public interest lawyer, and expert in risk regulation, public health, consumer rights and food policy. A Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law and Regulation, he’s the scientific director of the EU Public Interest Law Clinic at HEC Paris and New York University School of Law. He founded and is CEO of eLabEurope and is the co-founder of The Good Lobby, a skill-sharing platform connecting lawyers, academics and other law professionals with NGO’s and civic groups in need of advice.

Carlos Moedas
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. An economist and civil engineer, he was elected member of the Portuguese parliament in 2011 and was the Assistant Secretary of State for the Portuguese Prime Minister until 2014, being in charge of the management and governmental coordination of the  economic and financial adjustment programme in Portugal.

Grégoire Mallard

Sociologist, expert in European and Middle East governance, nuclear treaties and post-war financial negotiations, namely the management of sovereign debt. Author of proposals for democratic reform of the European Union, he was a professor at Northwestern University and currently teaches Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. 

Inês Domingos
Economist, member of the Portuguese Parliament in the Social-Democratic Party parlamentary group. A teaching assistant at Católica-Lisbon University, she is also a manager at an economic research consulting firm that she founded in Lisbon. With a BA in Economics from the Université catholique de Louvain and an MSc in Economics from the University College London, she previously worked at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in London.

Jan-Werner Mueller
Professor of Politics at Princeton University, author of What Is Populism?.  A Member of the School of Historical Studies of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, New York University, Harvard University as well as the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute. He is the co-founder of the European College of Liberal Arts (ECLA) in Berlin, Germany’s first private, English-speaking liberal arts college, for which he served as founding research director.

João Menezes-Ferreira
Diplomat, head of the Portuguese delegation to the Drafting Committees of the Treaty of Accession of Portugal to the European Communities and of the Treaty of Lisbon, respectively in 1985 and 2007. A lawyer and university professor, he was also a Member of the Portuguese Parliament, where he was the rapporteur for the the ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht. A music critic, he served as president of SOMA-Anti-prohibitionist Association, which promoted the current legislation on the decriminalization of drug use in Portugal.

Kim Lane Scheppele
The Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, her work focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress. Also a faculty fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she’s an expert on authoritarian regimes and a leading scholar on the Rule of Law situation in Hungary and Poland.

Margarida Marques
Vice-President of the European Affairs Committee of the Portuguese Parliament, former Secretary of State for European Affairs. A graduate of Mathematics and Educational Sciences, she was elected MP for the first time in 1983, having joined the European Commission in 1994. She was the head of the European Commission's Representation in Lisbon from 2005 to 2011 and a visiting professor at ISCTE-IUL, the Autonomous University of Lisbon and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Martin Schulz
Former President of the European Parliament and a Member of the Bundestag since 2017. A Member of the European Parliament from 1994 to 2017, where he was the Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, he was the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats from 2004 to 2012. A former bookseller, he is the former Secretary-General of the German Social Democratic Party and was the candidate of the Party of European Socialists to the Presidency of the European Commission in the 2014 European Elections.

Mário Centeno
Minister of Finance of Portugal, chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism and President of the Eurogroup. He was an economist at the Banco de Portugal and assistant director of the Central Bank Economics’ Department from 2004 to 2013, during which time he was also a member of the Economic Policy Committee of the European Commission. A professor at the University of Lisbon, he was also elected to the Portuguese parliament in 2015.

Mariana Mortágua
Economist, vice president of the parliamentary group of the Left Bloc in the Portuguese Parliament. She stood out as vice-president of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry to the management of Banco Espírito Santo and was the coordinator of her group in the committees of inquiry regarding the swap contracts in the public sector and the sale and resolution of BANIF. She was also coordinator of the Left Bloc group in the Parliamentary Committee on Economics and Public Works, a role she currently holds in the Committee on Budget, Finance and Administrative Modernization. A former teaching assistant and researcher, she has authored several books on the causes and consequences of the sovereign debt crises in Portugal and in Europe.

Miguel Poiares Maduro
Director of the School of Transnational Governance of the European University Institute. A former Minister for Regional Development of the Portuguese Government, he served as Advocate General at the European Court of Justice from 2003 to 2009. He is a legal expert, with a specialization in Constitutional Law and European Law, and a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe.

Mónica Ferro
Regional Director for the United Nations Population Fund. Member of the Portuguese parliament until 2015, she was the Vice-President of the European Forum of Parliamentarians for Population and Development. A former Secretary of State for Defence, she was a professor of international relations at the University of Lisbon, a political commentator in the Portuguese media and an adviser to the United Nations Development Program.

Paul Mason
Freelance journalist and political commentator, specialized in economical affairs. He was the Culture and Digital Editor of Channel 4 News, becoming the programme's Economics Editor from 2014 to 2016, a post he formerly held on BBC Two. He is the author of several books and a visiting professor at the University of Wolverhampton.

Rui Tavares
Historian, researcher at the Center for International Studies of the University Institute of Lisbon and the Commissioner of the Lisbon Ulysses Conference. Member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2014, he was the parliamentary rapporteur on the joint EU refugee resettlement programme and the situation of fundamental rights in Hungary. A political analyst, he’s an author of books on cultural history and politics of Portugal, history and theory of the European Union, notably The Irony of the European Project.

Turkuler Isiksel
Political scientist, author of The Functional Constitution of the EU. A professor at Columbia University in New York, she has devoted herself to contemporary political theory, especially to the ways in which concepts tailored to the nation-state apply to institutions that wield political power beyond that context, such as regional organizations or transnational courts.

Viriato Soromenho-Marques
Professor of Philosophy at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon. Specialized in Social and Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Nature and Environment, he collaborates regularly in several Portuguese media, being a member of the Scientific Council of the National Geographic Magazine, President of Quercus - National Association for Nature Conservation between 1992 and 1995, he is member of the National Council for Environment and Sustainable Development since 1989.

+ Programming | April 7th and 8th

April 7th

2.30pm – 4.30pmPanel 1. DemocracyMain Auditorium
 Kim Lane Scheppele, Margarida Marques, Miguel Poiares Maduro, Turkuler Isiksel
Moderator: Manuel Menezes

5.30pm – 7pm – Round Table Discussions 

Room 1Rights and Democracy - Luís de Freitas Branco Room
Constança Urbano de Sousa, Mamadou Ba, Paula Teixeira da Cruz, Rui Tavares, Teresa Anjinho
Moderator: São José Almeida

Room 2Society and Welfare - Almada Negreiros Room
Adolfo Mesquita Nunes, Joacine Katar Moreira, Miguel Fontes
Moderator: Manuel Carvalho

Room 3Knowledge and Culture - Maria Helena Vieira da Silva Room
Erika Kiss, Nuno Artur Silva, Pedro Penim, Tiago Bartolomeu Costa
Moderator: Pedro Esteves

Room 4Education and Science - Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen Room
Ana Rita Bessa, David Marçal, Maria Fernanda Rollo, Olga Pombo, Patrícia Gonçalves
Moderador: Teresa Firmino

9pm – 11pmPanel 2. Economy and SocietyMain Auditorium
Grégoire Mallard, Inês Domingos, Mariana Mortágua, Paul Mason
Moderator: José Pedro Frazão


April 8th

10.30am – 12.30pmPanel 3. Human and Environmental RightsMain Auditorium
Alberto Alemanno, João de Menezes-Ferreira, Mónica Ferro, Viriato Soromenho Marques
Moderator: Ricardo Alexandre

2pm – 3.30pm – Round Table Discussions

Room 5Environment and Planet - Luís de Freitas Branco Room 
Carlos MGL Teixeira, Francisco Ferreira, João Seixas, Júlia Seixas
Moderator: Lurdes Ferreira

Room 6Globalization - Sala Almada Negreiros
Diogo Feio, João Duarte Albuquerque, Rubina Berardo, Sofia Colares Alves
Moderator: Manuel Carvalho

Room 7Security and Defense - Maria Helena Vieira da Silva Room
Álvaro de Vasconcelos, Ana Gomes, Bernardo Pires de Lima, Pedro Roque, Ricardo Borges de Castro
Moderator: Clara Barata

Room 8Ulisses - Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen Room
 José Pedro Serra, Lídia Fernandes, Luís de Matos, Rui Tavares
Moderator: Nuno Pacheco

4pm – 6pmPanel 4. The Future of EuropeMain Auditorium
Carlos Moedas, Jan-Werner Müller, Mário Centeno, Martin Schulz, Rui Tavares
Moderator: José Manuel Rosendo

+ Youth Contest

Write your future – Selection of 15 to 25 young people to participate in the Ulysses Conference, 2018, on European Democracy: an idea whose time has come?

Victor Hugo once said “there is one thing more powerful than all the world’s armies, and that is an idea whose time has come.” This is the challenge that we now offer to you. Share with us your idea whose time has come. As part of the Ulysses Conference, 2018, on European democracy, a (written or recorded) essay competition will be held to select from 15 to 25 young people who can help shape the debate on Europe and its future in the world.

The young participants in this competition will play an active role in the discussions taking place and in editing a newspaper about the consequences of the conference, set to be held on Europe Day, 9 May 2018. The selected essays, in text, audio or video - will be awarded a Card CCB Jovem and a trip to Brussels on 3, 4 and 5 May for a visit to the European institutions, with travel and stay paid by the European Commission. The two most original tests will be awarded with two interrail passes, kindly offered by CP Comboios de Portugal.

From the essays sent to us, we will make the best possible selection based on the criteria of quality and diversity. If necessary, we will try to balance this choice in terms of gender, residence, and area of study or work, with the aim of arriving at a plural group of the highest quality. Accommodation will be provided and the travel expenses of participants from outside the Lisbon Metropolitan Area will be reimbursed.

Those essays that are not chosen will be preserved and their authors may be invited to take part in other similar initiatives at a later date. They will also be invited to take part in the Ulysses Conference, 2018, and in editing the conference conclusions.

The results will be announced by 28 March. More information or further explanations can be obtained via e-mail at

Young people selected

André Camilo, 20 years old, Ponta Delgada
Beatriz Silva, 18 years old, Lisbon
Carlos Teixeira, 23 years old, Tavira
Christopher Marques, 25 years old, Lisbon
Débora Soares, 23 years old, Lisbon
Flávia Cabaço, 22 years old, Torres Novas
Hugo Dantas, 26 years old, Seixal
João Campos, 20 years old, Lagos
João Coutinho, 17 years old, Valongo
João Gomes, 21 years old, Matosinhos
João Pedro Silva, 19 years old, Abrantes
João Diogo Barbosa, 21 years old, Vila Nova de Famalicão
Jorge Félix Cardoso, 22 years old, Vila Nova de Gaia
José Limão, 24 years old, Oeiras
Leya da Fonseca, 26 years old, Almada
Luís Ermida, 22 years old, Palmela
Maria Alice dos Santos, 19 years old, Caldas da Rainha
Maria Carreira, 18 years old, Lisbon
Maria Loureiro, 21 years old, Vila Nova de Gaia
Miguel Mauritti, 18 years old, Loures
Miguel Monteiro, 25 years old, Cascais
Nair Baptista, 21 years old, Mafra
Rafael Gonçalves, 29 years old, Lisbon
Rita Baião, 25 years old, Lisbon
Rodrigo Silva, 18 years old, Castelo Branco


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