ESU Election Congress: A Transformative Journey Towards ‘a Better Tomorrow’

For a Better Tomorrow

The ESU Election Congress 2024 held in Leuven was a crucial moment in the history of our organisation. From April 8th to April 10th, delegates from across Europe gathered in Leuven to participate in an event filled with energy, enthusiasm, and a shared commitment to shaping the future of the ESU.

The Congress kicked off with a warm welcome as outgoing President An Hermans set the stage. Attendees were treated to a series of thought-provoking discussions, lively debates, and inspiring speeches that delved into the issues facing our organisation and our continent.

The election of new leadership

The election of new leadership was a focal point of the Congress, with delegates casting their votes for the next President and members of the ESU Presidium. After a speech from all three candidates, Stefaan Vercamer emerged as the newly elected President, ready to lead the ESU into a new era of growth and innovation. Competing against him were Constantinos Phellas from Cyprus and Rainer Wieland from Germany, showcasing the diversity of talent and vision within the ESU community.

Moreover, alongside the election of Vercamer, a new Presidium was chosen, comprising individuals dedicated to advancing the ESU’s mission and serving its diverse membership. With Vercamer as president and a dynamic Praesidium by his side, the ESU is poised to embark on a transformative journey towards a brighter future.

Two thought provoking debates

 One of the highlights of the Congress was the round table debates, where moderators and speakers shared their insights on topics ranging from “Europe We Vote For” to “Citizens Make the Difference.” These discussions provided a platform for diverse perspectives and fostered meaningful dialogue on key issues shaping the future of Europe.

In the debate on “Europe We Vote For,” moderated by Prof. Steven van Hecke panel members such as Peter Hefele, Policy Director at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, and Liesbet Sommen, Former Director of Social Affairs at Belgian Federal Cabinets and Bram van Hecke, Former President of Groene Kring underscored the multifaceted challenges awaiting Europe. Their insights, ranging from the urgency of addressing climate change to the importance of ensuring security, provided a roadmap for navigating the complexities of our time.

Similarly, in the dialogue on “Citizens Make the Difference,” moderated by Heinz K. Becker, the panel, featuring leaders like Claus Bernhold, Vice-President of Seniorenbund der CDU (Germany); Mojca Škrinjar, President of SDS Seniors (Slovenia); Eija Alakangas, Kansallinen Senioriliitto ry (Finland); and Carmen Quintanilla, President of Comisión Nacional de Mayores PP (Spain), illuminated the transformative power of citizen engagement. Their narratives of grassroots activism and community empowerment resonated deeply, reinforcing the notion that true change begins with the collective actions of individuals.

Distinguished guests at our Congress

During the Congress, participants had the pleasure of listening to distinguished speakers including Dubravka Šuica, European Commissioner for Democracy & Demography and Koen Geens, former Belgian Minister of Justice.

Dubravka Šuica delivered a compelling address highlighting the critical role of citizens in shaping the future of Europe. She underscored the significance of democratic participation and civic engagement in ensuring inclusive and responsive governance across the continent. We’re immensely grateful for Commissioner Šuica’s dedication and commitment to promoting democracy and understanding the demographic shifts shaping our world. Her insights have been instrumental in guiding our discussions and actions towards building a better tomorrow. Koen Geens greeted us with a message of positivity, emphasising the importance of staying optimistic about the present while striving for a better tomorrow. 

A word of thanks

Throughout the Congress, participants had the opportunity to network, exchange ideas, and make new connections with like-minded individuals from across the continent. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie and collaboration, as delegates came together to chart a course towards a brighter future for the ESU and Europe as a whole. 

We extend our sincere gratitude to all the delegates, speakers, moderators, and organisers who made the ESU Election Congress 2024 a success. In addition, we would like to express our appreciation to those who have dedicated themselves to the functioning of the ESU over the past decade, especially An Hermans and Guido Dumon. They were also honoured during the closing ceremony for their highly valuable contributions.



Events in 2024

For a Better Tomorrow: Engaging Seniors in European Elections


As we approach the upcoming European Elections on June 9th, 2024, it is crucial that we, as seniors, recognize our role in shaping the future of our continent.

Tribute to An Hermans: A Legacy of Dedication and Friendship


For over a decade, An Hermans has served as the President of the European Seniors' Union, alongside the Secretary General Guido Dumon.

ESU Conference in Bratislava: A Resounding Success

Bratislava - Slovakia

The congress was marked by informative discussions and a focus on the active participation of seniors in society