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22-25 September 2021

Think Tank Central: Defining Freedom Conference

Lisbon, Portugal

We face a generational struggle to defend freedom in Europe and around the world. From the return of big government during the global pandemic, to the rise of the ‘Woke’ counterculture that endangers free expression, from the spread of cancel culture that attempts to re-write our history to suit modern norms, to the threat posed to national sovereignty by a greater centralisation of power in Brussels – across Europe and the Western World we need to bring together movements that stand to defend our freedom.

As we come out of the pandemic, the movement for freedom around the world must come together again and defend its values.

Join us in Lisbon from the 22nd-25th of September as we bring together the largest collection of think tanks, foundations, and liberty loving academics for a conference on reunifying the Freedom Movement.


Corinthia Lisbon, Av. Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro 105, 1099-031 Lisboa, Portugal


Wednesday, 22nd September 2021

Think Tank Training Day

10:00 - 11:00

First Session

Communications Strategies, with Ron Nehring


Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:15 

Second Session

Message Development: The Leesburg Grid, with Steve Sutton

12:15 - 13:45


13:45 - 14:45

Third Session

Communications Programs for Think Tanks, with Rick Tyler


Coffee Break

15:00 - 16:00

Fourth Session 

Mind the Gap: Persuasive Communications, with Ron Nehring

17:30 - 18:30 

Informal Welcome Drinks / Networking 

Thursday, 23rd September 2021


Welcome by President of New Direction, Tomasz Poręba MEP


Keynote Speech

Going Forward as a United Freedom Movement

Barbara Kolm, Vice President of the Austrian Central Bank


Panel 1

The Challenge to Freedom in Europe

Europe is undergoing a great period of change, with power increasingly centralised in Brussels, and with more and more directives being passed down from the European Commission encroaching on our freedom. At the same time a surge in support for left wing cancel culture threatens our rights to free expression. Our panel will explore the challenges that we face to freedom today in Europe.

  • Prof. Legutko, Co-chairman of the ECR group in the European Parliament
  • Daniel Lacalle, PhD in Economy 
  • John O'Sullivan, President of Danube Institute and former speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher
  • Moderator: Anna Wellisz, VP for External Affairs of the Edmund Burke Foundation


Coffee Break


Panel 2

Freedom and the Future of Europe

The European Union has recently been holding discussions on the ‘Future of Europe’ – but what does that mean for liberty in Europe. Will we see greater power given to the Member States and the people, or more power taken away?

  • Boris Kalnoky, Head of Media School at Mathias Corvinus Collegium
  • Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Journalist - The Telegraph
  • Domenico Lombardi,  Co-founder of Centro Studi Kypseli
  • ModeratorHannes Gissurarson, Professor 




Panel 3

National Sovereignty

Nation States have been at the heart of Europe for centuries. However, in recent years we have seen the EU override the will of the people and the democratic governments that they elected. In this panel we look at how best to strike the balance between European cooperation, and the principle of national sovereignty. 

  • Anna Wellisz, VP for External Affairs of the Edmund Burke Foundation
  • Ádám Kavecsánszki, Director General, Foundation for a Civic Hungary
  • Francesco Giubilei, Founder of Nazione Futura and president of the foundation Fondazione Tatarella
  • Moderator: Alvino-Mario Fantini, Editor-in-Chief of The European Conservative


Keynote Speech

Freedom and Innovation 

Yaron Brook, Chairman - Ayn Rand Institute


Panel 4

Economic Freedom

 Free trade has helped to raise millions of people out of poverty and been a driver of economic growth around the world. In this panel we look at the importance of guaranteeing economic freedom in the face of growing opposition from both the left and right.

  • Yaron Brook, Chairman - Ayn Rand Institute
  • Marko Milanovic Litre, Director, New Perspective
  • Lorenzo Montanari, Vice President International Affairs - Americans for Tax Reform
  • Elmars Kehris, Executive Director, Ekonomistu Apvieniba
  • Moderator: Nick King,  Centre for Policy Studies 




Panel 5

Freedom of Choice – Deregulating Europe

 Without the freedom to choose there can be no freedom. However, what happens when governments and international institutions start to regulate free choice? Our panel will explore the need for less regulation in Europe, and how it will allow for greater innovation instead. 

  • Maria Cholewinska, CEO, Institut Promyka 
  • Otto Brøns-Petersen, Director of Analysis at CEPOS 
  • Robert Chovanculiak, Analyst at INESS
  • Victoria Hewson, Head of Regulatory Affairs and Research Associate - Institute of Economic Affairs 
  • Moderator: Christopher Butler, Executive Director, Americans for Tax Reform


Annual Margaret Thatcher Dinner

After Dinner Speech delivered by John O'Sullivan - President of Danube Institute and former speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher

Friday, 24th September 2021


Panel 6

Freedom of Movement – Immigration or Integration?

Immigration continues to be one of the greatest issues facing Europe and the Western World today. In this panel we look at some of the possible answers to the problem.

  • Alan Mendoza, Director - Henry Jackson Society
  • David Campbell Bannerman - Chairman, The Freedom Association
  • Mattias Karlsson, Founder of Oikos 
  • ModeratorJuan Soto, Director - CIVISMO 


Coffee Break


Panel 7

Building a Global Freedom Movement

The threat to freedom is not just a European problem, across the globe those fighting for liberty are under increased pressure from all sides. Our panel talks about the importance of maintaining a global movement in the fight for freedom.

  • Ryan C. Berg, Senior fellow in the Americas Program and head of the Future of Venezuela Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • María Clara Escobar, Executive Director of Instituto de Ciencia Política (ICP)
  • Pamela Asturizaga O., Program Manager - LAC, International Republican Institute
  • Moderator : Eduardo Fernández Luiña, head of Studies - Disenso 




Panel 8

Building a New Freedom Network – What can think tanks do?

 The fight for freedom requires a strong intellectual backing. What role can think tanks and foundations play in spreading the message of freedom? How best should think tanks cooperate with one another? And how do we work towards building a better network?

  • Juan Soto, Director - CIVISMO
  • Azeem Ibrahim, Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy
  • Adam Bartha, Director, Epicenter
  • Marion Smith, President and CEO, Common Sense Society
  • ModeratorRick Tyler, MSNBC Political Analyst


Coffee Break


Panel 9

Reunifying the European Freedom Movement

In order to defend our freedom from the growing number of threats we face in the world, we must rally together – building a more unified movement. In this final panel our speakers offer reflections on what it takes to bring together then European Freedom Movement.

  • Alvino-Mario Fantini, Editor-in-Chief of The European Conservative
  • Barbara Kolm, Vice President of the Austrian Central Bank
  • Hannes Gissurarson, Professor 
  • Jan Erik Surotchak, Senior Director, Transatlantic Strategy, IRI
  • Moderator : Robert Tyler, Senior Policy Advisor - New Direction 


Closing Speech

The Current State of European Freedom

  • Radosław Fogiel, Vice-President - ECR Party 


End of Conference

17:00 - 18:00 

Cocktail reception 

Saturday, 25th September 2021

10:00 - 16:00 

Visit of Sintra