Meet the Mentors

Challenge 1

Joscha Ritz

Head of Division, BDI/BDA The German Business Representation Brussels

Joscha Ritz is Deputy Head of the Brussels office of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). Before joining the BDI in 2012, he worked as Manager at the EU-office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Brussels.
Joscha holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the London School of Economics (LSE), a Master from Sciences Po Lille, France, as well as a Diploma in Political Science from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany.

Challenge 2

Markus Löning

Managing Director and Senior Strategy Adviser

Markus is the founder and managing director of Löning – Human Rights & Responsible Business. He and his team help companies set up human rights due diligence processes to meet international requirements and standards.

Given his political background, he is an expert in strategic communication with various kinds of stakeholders. He has a global network of human rights, business and country experts.

Markus has been both a leader and member of the leadership of national and international political organisations and non-profit human rights organisations. Currently, he is a member of UNICEF’s German committee. He has been the chair of Liberal International’s Human Rights Committee, which brings together members of parliament and human rights activists from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. Furthermore, he is co-founder and chair of the NPO Finance and Human Rights a.s.b.l. 

From 2010 to 2013, Markus Löning was the German government’s Human Rights Commissioner and between 2002 and 2009 he was a member of the German Federal Parliament with a focus on European and development policy. Prior to his political career, Markus worked for 15 years in communications.

Challenge 3

Source: Freiburger Schule

Olaf Pruessmann

Director, Economic Affairs & Competitiveness, General Secretariat, Council of the EU

Challenge 4

Glen Hodgson

Founder & CEO, Free Trade Europa

With over twenty years’ experience in communications, public affairs and lobbying, Glen is the founder of the think tank Free Trade Europa, which focuses on promoting free trade, openness and the rule of law within the European Union and internationally. Glen also leads a stakeholder initiative on the platform economy in the Nordics.

Glen was previously responsible for the Nordics, Baltics and Central & Eastern Europe within an international communications agency. Prior to this he worked for the European institutions as well as governments, blue-chip international companies, start-ups and NGOs as a lobbyist, strategist and communications advisor.

Glen was also the Secretary General of a European trade association for five years. Today, Glen is a respected commentator on European affairs, as well as a frequent presenter, moderator and panellist at European policy events. Glen is also a trainer and coach on technology, migration, labour market, transport and sustainability policy as well as communications techniques for the public and private sectors.

Recommended Readings

In the following you will find some interesting basic and more in-depth readings, in preparation of our upcoming online hackathon « Engage Economy Europe21 », 22 September 2020.

Wolff, Guntram B. et. al: Rebooting Europe: A Framework for a Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery, Bruegel, May 2020.

Petropoulos, Georgios et al: Digitalisation and European Welfare States, Bruegel, 2019.

Becker, Sebastian: Digital Structural Change and the Welfare State in the 21st Century, Deutsche Bank Research, March 2019.

EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service: An initial mapping of structural risks facing the EU, July 2020.

Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies
Directorate-General for Internal Policies: The ECB’s Mandate: Perspectives on General Economic Policies, June 2020.

SME united: SMEunited’ Position Paper on the SME Strategy, July 2020.

Snower, Dennis: The Socio-Economics of Pandemics Policy, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, June 2020.

Meet the Team Coordinators

Challenge 1

Sophia Bengtsson

Head of Brussels Office, Centerpartiet

Sophia Bengtsson is the Head of Office for the Swedish Center Party in the European Parliament. She was previously the deputy Director of the Swedish Business Federation in Brussels, focusing on issues like trade policy, the EU single market and digitization. She’s also worked for the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and was the Chair of the board of the Swedish EU-focused newspaper Europaportalen.

Challenge 2

Michel Nentwig

Coordinator Free Trade Programme, International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)

Michel is 23 years old and lives in Duesseldorf, Germany. He manages the Free Trade Programme within the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) and chairs a local chapter of the liberal political youth organization Junge Liberale. Besides his political engagement, he is currently doing a dual study programme with a large European bank that has its roots in Asia.

Challenge 3

Adam Bartha

Director, EPICENTER

Adam is the Director of EPICENTER, a network a nine leading free-market think tanks from across Europe. He is responsible for the coordination and cooperation of the network and for organising the private and public events programme in Brussels. Adam gives regular talks on topics ranging from the rule of law, authoritarian populism, free market reforms, and the political affairs of the CEE region.

Adam was previously European Outreach Manager at EPICENTER and a Koch Summer Fellow in the Publications Department of the Independent Institute in California. He also has experience in domestic party politics in Germany and Hungary. Adam has a BA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations from the University of Sheffield and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Adam is fluent in English, German and Hungarian.

Challenge 4

Danica Vihinen

Head of Office, Svenja Hahn (MEP, Renew Europe)

Danica Vihinen is the former Secretary General of LYMEC (European Liberal Youth) and is now working as Head of Office and advisor on international trade for Svenja Hahn MEP. Before relocating to Brussels in 2016 she worked with communications, and especially trade related communications, at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. She also has experience working as assistant to an MP in the Finnish Parliament. Danica holds a Master in Comparative Political Science (MSc.) from Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

Keynote Speakers

Svenja Hahn

MEP, Renew Europe

Svenja Hahn (1989) is a first-term Member of the European Parliament for the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), part of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. She is from Hamburg, Germany. Svenja Hahn is a member of the committee for internal market and consumer protection
(IMCO) where she especially focuses on AI legislation. She is also a substitute member in the international trade committee (INTA), where her focus has been on South and Southeast Asia and responsible business conduct and circular economy. Furthermore, she is a member of the special committee on artificial intelligence in a digital age, established in 2020.

Svenja Hahn is also a member of the delegation to ASEAN and South Asia and a substitute member of the delegation to Australia and New Zealand. She is member of several parliamentary intergroups as well as the working group on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) and the Youth interest group.

Svenja Hahn was the President of the European Liberal Youth (LYMEC) from 2018-2020, and before that she served as the press officer (2014-2016) and Vice President (2016-2018) of the organisation.

Guntram Wolff

Director, Bruegel

Guntram Wolff is the Director of Bruegel. His research focuses on the European economy and governance, on fiscal and monetary policy and global finance. He regularly testifies at the European Finance Ministers’ ECOFIN meeting, the European Parliament, the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the French Parliament (Assemblée Nationale). From 2012-16, he was a member of the French prime minister’s Conseil d’Analyse Economique.

Guntram Wolff is also a member of the Solvay Brussels School’s international advisory board of the Brussels Free University. He joined Bruegel from the European Commission, where he worked on the macroeconomics of the euro area and the reform of euro area governance. Prior to joining the Commission, he was coordinating the research team on fiscal policy at Deutsche Bundesbank. He also worked as an adviser to the International Monetary Fund.

He holds a PhD from the University of Bonn, studied economics in Bonn, Toulouse, Pittsburgh and Passau and previously taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh and at Université libre de Bruxelles. He has published numerous papers in leading academic journals. Guntram is fluent in German, English, French and has good notions of Bulgarian and Spanish. His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media such as the Financial Times, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Caixin, Nikkei, El Pais, La Stampa, FAZ, Handelsblatt, Les Echos, BBC, ZDF, and others.

FAQ – Participants

Please note, that the hackathon will be taking place according to Central European Time (CET).

What is the online hackathon « Engage Economy Europe21 ! » about ?

Mentioned in the EU Treaties, social market economy stands for an economic order, which combines free markets and social protection measures. This concept, that has many different dimensions across the EU and has been changing focus over time, is currently revisited in the light of digital transformation, the increased use of artificial intelligence, as well as challenges to the cohesion of the European Union through crises.

Understanding the scope and impact of big data and algorithms on citizens, enterprises and governments is crucial to rethink roles and responsibilities in our economic and social model. In addition, the current COVID-19 pandemic is acting as a catalyst for digitalisation across economies and societies. Digital solutions are in demand, therefore supporting the rapid development, adaptation and promotion of digital skills.

Past and current crises have intensified the debate on solidarity among member states and the social dimension of the EU. A re-balanced economic system with a pronounced social approach could become the glue that holds a diverse Union together in times of uncertainty. Formulating innovative ideas, bearing a liberal imprint, will therefore be necessary to strengthen cohesion and enable a stronger EU.

When will the hackathon take place ?

The hackathon will take place on Tuesday, 22 September, from 16:30h to 22h.

What is the agenda ?

You can find the agenda for the event here.

How is the online hackathon organised ?

The hackathon will include joint sessions and team sessions. For both session types, the main communication platform will be Zoom. Teams will deliver their pitches through the video presentation plattform Loom. There will be live-streamings, webinars, Q & A sessions and daily check-ins. For more information you will find the agenda here in due course.

Please preinstall both, Zoom and Loom software.

In which language will the online hackathon be conducted ?

The language of the hackathon is English.

What are the challenges ?

Organisers have identified four challenges which are up for discussion during the online hackathon and for which new ideas and policy approches are developed. Each challenge will be tackled by a team of participants led by a team coordinator.

Challenge 1 :

What role and responsibilities for business ? What elements for a framework designed to support enterprises conributing to a prosperous Europe ?

Challenge 2 :

How to ensure that social market economy is closely linked to democracy, values, fundamental rights and freedoms ?

Challenge 3 :

What role for ECB and other European institutions and organisations in a refitted Economic and Monetary Union ?

Challenge 4 :

How to steer trade policy so that it mutually benefits eonomies and societies globally ?

Who are the stakeholders ?

The European Dialogue Programme of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has invited partner organisations and individuals from among their networks from across Europe.

What will happen with the outcomes after the hackathon ?

The organisers will publish all pitches on the website of the European Dialogue Programme. Following the implementation of all three hackathons, generated ideas and policy approaches will be brought to the attention of a wider audience – within liberal circles and beyond.