Theme and Tracks

This year’s theme BOLD EUROPE allows us to continue last year’s vision of a new Europe. With the multiple crises our continent is still facing, a Bold Europe becomes necessary.

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For too long, European prosperity has been based on cheap Russian energy, the huge Chinese market and American security guarantees. In 2023, Europe must accept this new reality and take a bold leap. It must urgently reduce its dependencies while remaining open to the world. Europe needs to massively build renewable energy systems, diversify away from dominating suppliers and vulnerable legacy industries, and take its security into its own hands.

More than that: Europe also needs to become bolder in shaping the world. It must use the current window of opportunity to accelerate the green transition and strengthen its global leadership in the fight against climate change. Europe’s former economic powerhouses must bring their economies back on track and regain their competitiveness by investing more in technology and innovation.

The EU must become more effective in using the size of its single market to set global standards following its interests and values. Defending our democratic values against authoritarian influences also requires boldness. We need to master this complex world by questioning assumptions, running experiments and taking risks.

Bold means having a clear plan together. The willingness to take risks together. The preparedness to act fast and strong together.

A bold Europe is not an option, it is a necessity.

Thematic Tracks: Within the framework of this year’s annual theme the EFA23 will once again focus on four main challenges of our time.

Ic The Climate Opportunity

Rallying for Climate Action

  • How do we design climate action to bring about a truly sustainable and socially just transformation?
  • What are the structures, innovations, incentives, models and mindsets it needs to enable this action?
  • What is everyone’s role in climate action?

We are currently facing various crises: geopolitical instability, loss of biodiversity, rising inequalities and the ongoing heating of the planet – all those have merged into a single major crisis. Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the consequences of climate change are not progressing as fast as they should. This is seriously jeopardising the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Now, at the latest, it is time to seize the climate crisis as a last chance for systemic change, transformative solutions and social and technological innovation. Within the Climate Track, EFA identifies different approaches to accelerate the transition to a net-zero future. New economic thinking, better policies, strategic climate finance and an empowered civil society is needed. EFA brings together political and economic decision-makers with activists, civil society representatives and academics to find a basis for joint climate action.


Fighting for Europe’s Economic Sovereignty

  • How to secure the financial future of Europe’s young generations?
  • How to finance Europe’s bid to win the global race for technology and innovation?
  • How to manage future economic and financial relations with Ukraine and with Russia?

Europe’s post-war success story has stalled in the last 20 years. This stagnation has led to an decrease of competitiveness, economic imbalances and a subsequent increase in social inequalities. The pandemic and the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine have disrupted established supply chains and shaken global competitive positions. Europe must act, and act quickly.

We must reduce economic and security dependencies and thus emphasise the ecological and digital transformation. Only a resilient and strong Europe will secure our independence in the years to come. A stronger focus on education, innovation and research is necessary, as is a robust digital architecture and sound capital markets. Europe must build on the strengths of a social and inclusive market economy and find viable solutions to get its success story back on track.


Securing Europe in a Multipolar World

  • How can the EU better translate its strengths into political clout and contribute to peace?
  • What should a future European security architecture look like?
  • How is technology used in the global competition and how might it contribute to peace-building?

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine was a turning point for European security. It is not only an attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but on the rules-based international order. Moreover, European security is also undermined by hybrid attacks and dependencies in strategic sectors. The trend towards a multipolar world, the intensifying competition between the US and China, and the erosion of multilateralism create a challenging geopolitical situation in which the EU must take a stance. Within the framework of the EFA, political decision-makers, civilian and military experts, leaders from business and civil society, and especially young people will develop approaches to solutions for Europe.

Ic The Future of Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe

Reinforcing Democracy in Europe

  • How can we safeguard and enhance democratic resilience?
  • How can we effectively include citizens in democratic processes?
  • How can we improve democratic leadership?

After decades of expansion, democracy has been in worldwide decline since 2005. We are witnessing polarisation and the rise of authoritarian politics. Citizens are disillusioned and losing their trust in representative democracy. Disinformation and deep mistrust in the established media, institutional science and information channels are crucial factors, just as inequality and the failure to deliver on promises of social advancement. European democracies need to become more resilient and inclusive. Global alliances of democratic states, civil society and experts need to mobilise to develop solutions suited to today’s information and technology context. The European Forum Alpbach brings together all actors of the democratic ecosystem in order to find solutions and bring about change.

See how the topics are covered in our schedule: