On May 24, 2022, Professor Maria João Rodrigues assumed the position of Chairperson of the Advisory Board of Re-Imagine Europa. Already part of the Advisory Board since the foundation of the organisation, she will be the first member covering the new role.
For the next two years, the Advisory Board of Re-Imagine Europa (RIE) will be chaired by Professor Maria João Rodrigues, to facilitate its work and activities as well as support the organisational development of RIE thanks to her prestigious career and experience. The role was formally appointed during the annual meeting of RIE Advisory Board, held in Brussels on the 24th Mat 2022, and officially announced the same evening during the RIE Forum Gala ‘Emotions, Narratives and the Future of Europe’ at Palais d’Egmont.
Currently President of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Maria João Rodrigues is a former Portuguese Minister of Employment in Portugal of PM Antonio Guterres and a European politician with a large track in different European institutions: EU Presidencies, Council, European Council, European Commission and, more recently, European Parliament where she was Vice-President of S&D Group, the second most important EP Group, in charge of the general coordination and interface with the other EU institutions.
Over the years, Maria João Rodrigues played a relevant role in several important European initiatives such as the Lisbon Treaty, the Lisbon and the Europe 2020 strategy (the EU’s agenda for growth and jobs), the Eurozone reform, the interface with EU strategic partners, the roadmap for EU’s future, the European Pillar of Social Rights and, more recently, in the development of the plans to respond to the COVID crisis.
In academic terms, she was professor of European economic policies at the European Studies Institute – Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Lisbon University Institute, chaired the European Commission Advisory Board for socio-economic sciences and author of more than one hundred publications.
At her opening speech, she stated: “I am delighted to be the first Chairwoman of Re-Imagine Europa’s Advisory Board, a role that is not to replace the role of our President [Valéry Giscard d’Estaing], a man who is in fact irreplaceable. He will remain our President and reference. This role is to provide guidance together with the Steering Committee and I am very honored to cover it”. At the beginning of her career, she collaborated with President Giscard d’Estaing in the framework of the Lisbon Treaty where she immediately “recognised someone with ambition and a vision for Europe”.
According to the new Chair, the role was accepted because Re-Imagine Europa is a well-designed organisation founded by a leading figure of the European history led by high ambition and, based on her professional experience, Re-Imagine Europa truly represents a new generation of think tank in Europe. In RIE there is “the combination of a good set of partners and foundations that consolidate its position as a super-party organisation, which is strongly needed to create dialogue and pluralism“.
She also commented on the importance of the extensive network of RIE knowledge partners: “The European project is a matter of creativity, all the time, every day; so when we bridge the policy-making world and the intellectual world, in the best of references, we can go far, because ideas are a powerful engine and I have seen this in my life in many moments”. Lastly, she stressed the important aspect of communicating with the European citizens, a central part of RIE’s work and “the capacity [of RIE] to reach out larger shares of citizens, because the European citizens are and will be the main part of the European project”.