The EU's Fifth Project - Transitional Governance in the Service of Sustainable Societies

We need alternatives to GDP growth as the goal of public policy, and we need alternatives to work and wealth accumulation as the driving forces in our lives. A genuine transition in the way we live is the only true path to sustainability. But it must be accompanied by a transition in the way we govern. This is Europe’s fifth project.” – Olivier De Schutter

 EU5P: The Francqui International Conference

Brussels, Palais des Académies, 8-9 May 2014

Media corner:

Read Le Monde (France)Olivier De Schutter : « L'Europe doit faire le pari de l'innovation » - see PDF for full original version
Read Euractiv (Intl)UN official: EU needs to encourage social movements
Read Euractiv (Intl)Citizens not to blame for rising consumption, scholars say
Read La Libre Belgique (Belgium)Hopkins: "L’industrie n’a pas à imposer ses règles" - PDF coming soon
Read New Europe (Intl)Back to growth, or forward to sustainability?
Read The Scotsman (UK)New social contract to boost our ecology



  • 28.04.2014: Olivier De Schutter is pleased to announce that a background paper on the EU’s Fifth Project (EU5P): Transitional Governance in the Service of Sustainable Societies is now available here.In his background paper, Olivier De Schutter identifies a set of fundamental questions that must be asked if Europe is to address the economic, social and environment crises it faces, as well as the crisis of disillusionment with European integration and EU governance.
  • An updated programme is now available here.
  •  REGISTRATION CLOSED. The number of people hoping to register for the conference widely exceeded not only our expectations, but also the capacity of the Palais des Académies where the event will be held. Therefore, if you would like to register but have not done so already, please be patient: we are looking for a solution to accommodate a larger number of participants. In the interim, please subscribe to the EU5P newsletter  in order to be kept posted of developments in the next few weeks. If you have registered but it turns out later that you will not be able to attend, please kindly let us know, so that your place can be taken by others willing to attend, by sending an email to JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING with 'EU5P CANCELLATION' in the subject header.

Confirmed speakers include Philippe Maystadt, Minister of State and former President of the European Investment Bank; Rob Hopkins, the initiator of the Transition Network; Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, whose book "The Spirit Level" had such an impact in drawing our attention to the need to address growing inequalities; Frank Vandenbroucke and Anton Hemerijck, the intellectual godfathers of the social investment package adopted by the European Commission in 2013; Charles Sabel and Jonathan Zeitlin, the leading thinkers on democratic experimentalism; Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee; Bernadette Segol, Secretary-General of the European Trade Union Confederation; Jorgo Riss, Head of the Greenpeace EU Unit; Thierry Philipponnat, Head of Finance Watch; and Arnaud Zacharie, Secretary-General of CNCD-11.11.11.

What is EU5P?

The Francqui international conference on "Europe's Fifth Project" (EU5P) will bring together experts, policymakers and civil society representatives to discuss how the EU could develop transitional governance tools in the service of moving towards sustainable societies.

Why a fifth project?

Four projects have been central in shaping European integration to date: the internal market; economic and monetary union; the establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice; and, since the launch of the Lisbon strategy in 2000, the building of a ‘knowledge economy’, a project now central to the "Europe 2020" strategy.

But in 2014, the EU finds itself faced with a triple economic, environmental and social crisis, and only able to propose piecemeal solutions. Europe is in need of a new, mobilizing project that can give renewed meaning to the process of integration and form a new pact with citizens. The upcoming European elections provide a unique opportunity to define what such a project could look like, and which governance reforms are required for it to be implemented.

Why sustainability and transitional governance?

We have entered a race against time to mitigate the ecological damage our pattern of growth has caused and to build more inclusive societies in a globalized economy. The ecological transition, if it is to succeed, must go beyond the design of new and cleaner technologies, and must even go beyond purely environmental measures. It requires us to move towards more inclusive societies, and requires us to rethink not only regulatory options but also the role of economic incentives and financial tools.

Change is already happening, in the form of myriad local initiatives. We need tools to harness and promote this social experimentation, and we need a new mode of governance that allows us to adapt to a complex and fast-changing environment, and ceases to prescribe policy from the top down. This requires us to reimagine EU governance in a way that makes diversity across the EU Member States an asset rather than a liability -- a means to speed up collective learning, rather than a source of distrust in the European project.

The EU5P conference will address the challenge by asking eight key questions:

The process

EU5P is a process as well as a conference. Over the coming months, a series of contributions on the transition to sustainable societies will be posted by leading experts, under the thematic areas listed above. A consultation will also be opened in order to gather the views of the public.

Find out more

The Francqui International Conference 2014 is organized with the support of the Francqui Prize. The most prestigious scientific prize in Belgium, the Francqui Prize is awarded by the Francqui Foundation every three years in the field of the social sciences and the humanities. It was awarded in 2013 to professor Olivier De Schutter for his contribution to the advancement of EU law, the theory of governance, and human rights law.