Belgo-British Conference

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The Belgo-British Conference is an annual conference organised by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, the British Council and EGMONT - Royal Institute for International Relations.[1]

The aim of the Conference is to enrich bilateral relations by bringing together around 100 politicians, business people, academics, journalists, and other opinion-formers to debate themes of common and crucial importance to Belgium and the United Kingdom. In recent years themes have included ‘Natural resources: challenges and opportunities,’ 'Employment and Growth,' and ‘Two countries, how many Europes? A Belgo-British dialogue.' The 2013 Conference will focus on 'History and Reconciliation: Engaging a New Generation,' and comes at a time when states involved in the First World War are preparing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its outbreak.

The Conference is currently chaired by Sir Stephen Wall (former UK Permanent Representative to the European Union) and Ambassador (Hon) Lode Willems (Director External and Government Affairs, BNP Parisbas-Fortis), who preside over an independent Board which agrees the theme of the conference. Previous chairs include Andre Villeneuve, Count George Jacobs, Baron Paul Buysse and Lord Simon of Highbury. The patrons of the Conference are HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Laurent of Belgium. The location of the conference alternates annually between the United Kingdom and Belgium and takes place under the Chatham House Rule.[2]


The Belgo-British Conference was first held in 2000, having been an idea discussed by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, when they met for the first time in Downing Street in November 1999.

List of Conferences and Themes[edit]

2000 (Bruges, Belgium)

2001 (London, UK)

2002 (Brussels,[3] Belgium)

2003 Changing Europe in a Changing World[4] (Royal Society of Edinburgh, UK)

- The Regions and Europe: Partners or Rivals?
- The EU Economic Future: Competitiveness or Complacency?
- European Security in Flux: Is Partnership Possible?
- Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Europe

2004 Ensuring Europe's Prosperity - Building Bridges[5] (Namur, Belgium)

- Future Prosperity: investing in science, research and higher education
- Enabling Prosperity: how Europe can help secure a better future for Africa
- Sharing prosperity: working with Asia
- Maintaining Prosperity: can we sustain the European social model?

2005 2020 – A new horizon for Europe[6] (London, UK)

- The shape of Europe in 2020
- Environment and climate change 2020: what really is our future?
- Will we still need a manufacturing industry in 2020?
- What role for Europe in the world in 2020?

2006 Globalisation and the Citizen[7] (Château de Val Duchesse - Brussels, Belgium)

- Future energy supplies and the citizen
- Global Healthcare and the citizen
- Integration and Diversity – How can the public and private sectors respond to public concerns?
- Citizens’ access to information in a globalised world.

2007 Bridges Across The Channel (Lancaster House - London, UK)

- Economy: can the EU hold its own as global competition intensifies?
- Politics: a voice for Europe on the international scene?
- Education – a driver for growth?
- Culture & Identity

2008 Natural Resources: Challenges and Opportunities[8] (Palais d'Egmont - Brussels, Belgium)

- Natural resources: State of Play
- International Policy Instruments - Changing Behaviour
- Focus on Business

2009 Innovating our Way out of the Crisis (British Council - London, UK)

- Innovation: Towards competitiveness, growth and jobs
- How Higher Education fosters Innovation
- Innovation in developing green technology

2010 Player or Spectator? Europe in Tomorrow's World[9] (Palais d'Egmont - Brussels, Belgium)

- How hard is Europe's "soft power"?
- Balancing internal cohesion & external influence
- G2 or G3? US and Chinese views on Europe

2011 Employment and Growth[10] (Lancaster House - London, UK)

- UK-Belgian experience of the crisis
- Labour market policies
- Youth and Skills
- Population ageing: facing the challenge
- International Labour Mobility

2012 Two Countries, How many Europes? A Belgo-British Dialogue[11] (Palais d'Egmont - Brussels, Belgium)

- Implications of the Eurozone crisis for the EU and bilateral relations
- Implications for European External Policies
- The EU and its Citizens

Twitter Hashtag: #BelgoBrit2012

2013 History and Reconciliation: Engaging a New Generation (Lancaster House - London, UK)

- Commemoration and Reconciliation
- Values: Engaging the New Generation
- Through History & Culture; through Education; through the Olympic Spirit and Sport; through International Law and Justice

Twitter Hashtag: #BelgoBrit


External links[edit]