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Author Archives: Peter Cook

About Peter Cook

When I was five years old, I wanted to be in The Beatles, but all the jobs were taken … By the age of 12, I wanted to be a scientist and I became one. At the age of 18 I took a job with a philanthropic pharmaceutical company, working around the world and developing the first human insulin, novel medicines for herpes and to bring the first HIV / AIDS treatment to the world in record time. This means that I bring a scientific mind, curiosity and rigour to your enterprise. By the age of 30 I had developed an interest in business leadership and began teaching MBA programmes, having completed 3.5 degrees myself. At 34, I took myself out of a paid job and, for the last 28 years, I have worked independently as a consultant, author and speaker with people at all levels all over the world, helping them to transform their enterprises. My clients seek to balance their passions, purposes and profit for a more responsible and sustainable form of capitalism in the 4th industrial age. I also help leaders digest what we call "wicked problems and opportunities", in other words, the issues that keep them awake at night, using a unique mixture of divergent and convergent thinking skills. My 28 years of consultancy experience bring a wealth of expertise and wisdom to you, in enterprises as diverse as Unilever to the United Nations. Along the way, I have written 12 books on leadership, innovation and creativity, gaining a prize for my work from Sir Richard Branson and various accolades from Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham, Tom Peters et al. Over some 50 years, I have gradually combined my three passions of science, business and music into a potent mixture which reaches the head, heart and soul of your enterprise. In combination, your enterprise benefits from rigour, analytics and curiosity due to my science and business background, plus the emotional intelligence, creativity and improvisation skills that come from my life as a music composer and producer. As a musician I have been privileged to interview world class musicians such as Roberta Flack, John Mayall, AC / DC, members of Prince’s ensembles, Queen's production team and Meatloaf's singing partners for their insights into leadership, innovation and success. I am a passionate advocate for better politics and better business for a better world, fighting populist politicians and short-termism in our global affairs. I am an "HR" person, i.e. a "Hippy Realist": green by ideals, but pragmatic by actions to change the world towards more sustainable behaviour.
Peter Cook

Election FAQs

Many thanks to those who got in touch re my candidacy for the Branches Forum Chair position at The European Movement. I’ve made some responses to the issues you have wanted to know more about below:

Collaborations with Grassroots Groups and activists

There’s a very long list LOL !! Some notable entries include driving to Barnard Castle in collaboration with the EU Flag Mafia to test my eyes … Stopping along the way to deliver collaborative events with Leeds for Europe and North East for Europe in Leeds City Centre and Durham. I was the first to review the In Limbo book for an international human rights leader. Subsequently I wrote a song to amplify the book around the world, incorporating 30 spoken voice contributions from all over the world and taking three months to complete. The song reached No 1 on Amazon. I have also written Op Ed pieces for The New European, Grassroots for Europe and Hendrik Klassens, founder of the FBPE hashtag. Among the many partners I’ve collaborated with over the years, the list includes Berkshire and Hampshire for Europe, Manchester for Europe at the Tory Party Conference, Brighton and Hove for Europe at The Labour Party Conference, No 10 Vigil, Voices for Europe, Essex for Europe, SODEM, Eddisbury for Europe, Swindon for Europe, AC Grayling, Tunbridge Wells IN, The Rejoin Party, Enfield for Europe, New Europeans, Young European Movement and many more. Aside from that, I’ve just written an article for The Federal Trust on Brexit and musicians. We plan an event featuring some music giants following the release of the article. We are also about to undertake a national tour of UK with a number of branches and groups to re-engage people on the rocky road to rejoining the EU. At present the list includes Sheffield for Europe, Cornwall for Europe, EM Staffs, Glasgow Loves EU with more coming on board daily.

Our torch song we wrote to re-ignite people young and old in pro-EU activity

Diversity

Clearly it would be easy to make the critique that I’m male and pale. But I’m certainly not stale, having spent lots of my time working with young people of all persuasions in the various collaborations above. We really do need to attract different demographic and lifestyle sectors, having myself campaigned at Pride and other events. We are working at The Reading Festival this weekend with just the aim of reaching new demographics in mind. Through my personal networks, I am to engage new sectors and help develop leaders to take EM forward with a rainbow coalition of people united with the aim of building a better Britain in a better Europe for a better World.

Pride in the name of Europe – One of our performances at Pride

Uniting The European Movement

Colin Gordon from Oxford for Europe asked the question reference the BARNS reforms which are a vital part of the Organisation Development for The European Movement. I’ve simply copied his question and my answer here for transparency for all that are interested.

Colin Gordon : You may recall [see below] that I sent you on July 2nd a letter from our chair Dr Peter Burke to Andrew Adonis setting out out concerns about the BARNS proposal. We wrote about the proposal to establish a separate status and rights for branches and affiliates that “A new formal division within the largest pro-European organisation could look from outside (and inside) like a significant own goal ”. You replied to me: “I …. concur with the points in the below letter.  It is important to build the organisation as strongly as possible and I don’t think that the “own goal” serves EM well, especially at this time when we have unprecedented levels of “Brexit Apathy” within the UK and therefore the movement.” In your more recent candidate’s statement, you say that if elected you will work on “completing the BARNS reforms”. Does that mean that you support the BARNS proposals for a different constitutional status and rights for groups classed as branches and groups classed as affiliates?

Peter : The BARNS issue is a complex problem.  It rather seems that a number of internal issues were conflated with external ones and this has clearly led to disquiet amongst members.  Whilst rejecting the vote or attempting to re-run the vote have parallels with the Brexit referendum, what is wise here will be to analyse the 28% and find ways to disentangle the separate issues and find solutions or mitigations to these issues where possible.  I would offer to bring parties together to process the “unfinished business” on this matter to facilitate an equitable resolution of the matters.  This is what I do for a living.

Uniting The European Movement will not occur until there is substantive movement on the organisational issues that need addressing. This needs active intervention to harmonise the various viewpoints and will not heal by simply repeating the words unity. I say this with 27 years of experience dealing with Organisation Development (OD) issues of a complex nature at Human Dynamics.

Reaching outside the bubble

It’s vital that we reach outside the bubble as a European Movement. This means that I have targeted mainstream media outlets in collaboration with others. I realise that media coverage in populist media is outside the preferred range of some of our members, and I have recently received some private critique (and a healthy dose of praise) about it, arising from a misconception about the reasons I have done it. Yet I believe it is necessary if we are to change minds on Europe and Brexit and I just happen to be good at such things. We achieve nothing other than tea and empathy by staying inside our own safe places. I intercepted this malicious communication from Patrick Reynolds, who accidentally sent it to me without realising I was a Branch Chair. if people are going to do bad stuff, it helps to be good at the job. Patrick seemed somewhat embarrassed about this and wanted me to remove this from public view. We uncovered much more of this material being circulated on whatsapp groups and in underground chat groups. These appear to have emanated from Yvonne Wancke’s team and Grassroots for Europe, although it is not clear just who originated the smear campaigns:

From Patrick Reynolds, Sevenoaks Swanley & Tonbridge in Europe SSTIE – an alternative view from Adrian Ekins-Daukes follows:

I believe that Peter is the right person for the job since he has the qualities of, inter alia, leadership, imagination and determination to get a job done.  He is an ‘ideas’ man and a strong chairman but listens to the views of others and is open to their suggestions. He is skilled at addressing waverers on the EU and stands up vigorously for our cause against its opponents when the occasion arises. His is the style of leadership that European Movement branches need  in the present circumstances. For too long it has drifted, preoccupied with its own internal problems, communicating mainly with its own supporters and converts, and encouraging members occasionally to write letters to their MPs who disregard them. I agree that the candidate whom you support, Yvonne Wancke, possesses impeccable  qualities which would make her a very good candidate for the chair of a wide range of organisations. The European Movement, however faces opponents who are dishonest, corrupt and completely unscrupulous. Beyond Brexit, they are set on undermining our democracy and retaining power for the rest of this decade and beyond. The Movement’s leadership has been slow to recognise this in the past and there are still those who turn a blind eye to it. If we really hope to achieve our goal, we need leaders who take a tougher and more active and inventive approach than at present. Peter is the man to steer our branches along this arduous track.

I am proud that we have reached into the BBC, Guardian, France 24, ZDF, New York Times etc. AND The Mail, Sun, Express, RT and the populist press, all done with no agents, no budgets, just with an intelligent approach to PR and media relations. We cannot rely solely on demographics to help us Rejoin the EU. I will help Branches and Affiliates to leverage their talents to do this, whilst respecting that we are all made differently. Some prefer letter writing, others street events, media work and so on. All are valid, as our guide to activism shows.

Legitimacy

Another untrue rumour was raised and shared to all those with votes via WhatsApp and other messaging platforms that I had insufficient service as had only been a member for two months. This is not true. I have in fact been a member for over a year. It would have been two years but my EM membership direct debit failed the first time I applied and I did not realise for 6 months. Aside from that I have been a member of the Mid Kent EM for 4 years and was instrumental in starting our events across the area. I had eventually to write to The European Movement about these matters although they and Yvonne Wancke refused to do anything about it.

Transparency

Colin Gordon from Oxford for Europe also raised the issue of what some people perceive is the “elephant in the room”. It seems that some people are asking about this topic, so I may as well deal with it openly and honestly.

Colin Gordon : In the same email you mentioned that you were presently fighting a case of potential unfair dismissal on behalf of your son Tom, who works as senior Digital Officer at European Movement UK, and that this was impacting on your communications with EM executives and your ability to comment on EM affairs. Can I please ask whether this dispute is still ongoing, and whether there is a risk of its impacting your work, if elected, as a member of the EM Executive Committee ? Should branches considering their vote in this election be taking account of  this issue?

Peter : My son’s dispute is his dispute and not mine.  I had hoped that all would have been done and dusted, but there has been a unexpected delay in completion and it is now once again on the way to finalisation.  To answer your question, the matter should not be taken account of in decision making.  I am a professional business person and that’s all that matters for my part. It is completely irrelevant to my candidacy.

Profile statement

Finally, here is my 500 word statement to help guide your decision making. I bring considerable business experience to the role, plus prolific skills in grassroots campaigning and getting our cause into mainstream media. If you have questions for me, please feel free to call me.

Defence Against The Dark Election Arts

I recently participated in an election. I lost. I expected to lose and was not troubled by it. But I was troubled by the way in which the electoral process was twisted, the lies that were told and the underground methods that were used to swing the result. It reminded me of the Brexit and Trump elections. Except this was not an election that really mattered. It was for the Branches Forum Chair for The European Movement. Yes, I hear you say. Who? Read on and learn from this cautionary tale of Defence Against The Dark Election Arts.

Prologue

The European Movement (EM) is a think tank / pressure group for our relationship with Europe. Up till 2016 it was a sleepy but steady membership movement with a worthy pedigree, having been started by Winston Churchill some 70 years ago. Since the Brexit referendum EM has been under pressure to perform more pro-actively and stepped up to the challenge with marches and other activities. This was not enough and more recently they appointed a new CEO, Anna Bird and a new Chair in the form of the marmite figure Lord Andrew Adonis. All the while the membership and executive have been divided on a number of issues and this division has grown and grown. These have revolved around the extent to which the movement is an elite think tank or whether it is a co-ordination hub for grassroots activities. This prompted someone called Richard Wilson to penetrate the Executive. Richard heads a micro organisation called Grassroots for Europe and is himself a controversial figure, who has not been universally welcome amongst the Exec Team. One described the move thus: “Imagine Bill Gates being allowed to join the board of Apple and then asking them to change the operating software – that’s what they are doing with G4E and Wilson”. This has promoted internecine warfare in what another described as an episode of “The Thick of it”. It seems that Andrew Adonis has been brought in to refocus EM, although his election margin was slim and one of his early decisions prompted a senior member of the organisation to whistleblow in The Sunday Express. At the same time, Richard Wilson appears to be seeking to take EM over and the CEO seems powerless or unwilling to act. This sets the context for our election shambles. Roy Motteram sums up the glorious history of the EM and the recent decline due to entryists in this Twitter thread:

Election Shambles

Several EM board members told me that what took place in the recent EM elections would look more at home in a rogue African state or North Korea. It began with the calling of the election itself. EM elections are normally coronations with only one candidate, but I had been encouraged to stand by a number of people, in order to address the “unfinished business” with leadership, strategy and structure. Concurrent with this, I had been representing my son, who was claiming constructive unfair dismissal in a dispute with EM CEO Anna Bird. We had made significant progress towards an agreement to end the dispute. As soon as I announced my candidacy, Ms Bird instructed lawyers to take the agreement off the table. Additionally, some new rules were added to the constitution, that prospective candidates could not have any conflicts of interest. It appeared that these events were concurrent with my candidacy and I gained the impression that they were created specifically around my personal circumstances. I had to pass back responsibility to my son for his own representation and leave him to conduct his own legal affairs whilst he should have been searching for a new job. Oh well, never mind.

As soon as this was sent the agreement was broken. Perhaps a coincidence?

Entryism

To sway the election towards the preferred candidate Yvonne Wancke, it seemed that Grassroots for Europe leader Richard Wilson insisted on giving voting rights to an affiliated group called Veterans for Europe. Since they have members across the geography of other voting groups, this would give them influence on the vote and, in some cases, voting rights by proxy. Unholy alliances were formed with other EM affiliate groups with larger memberships such as Oxford for Europe and Leeds for Europe. To the casual eye, these look like European Movement Branches but they are not.

In a bizarre twist of events, once the returning officer complained about several serious lapses in good practice, he was told he was unfit to continue running the election as he had “resigned”. This was not true and eventually the statement was successfully defeated, although several other attempts to overturn the process and the people were made. This culminated in a series of moves by various people who attempted to declare the election null and void and farcical counter-attacks by people operating on the other side, who said it was not. Over the period of one week from w/e 17 August I think I counted 5-6 occasions on when the election was OFF, then ON. I almost decided to run a sweep stake on the next cancellation and resurrection! Here is the “clarification” letter I received, which also includes some befuddling information about who was able to vote. This was to lead to the entryism and other breakdowns in the electoral process. Some of the “regulars” said that they did not recognise quite a few of those voting in the election and I requested the video file of the meeting to check. So far it has not been provided.

In the event, a third electoral candidate emerged who subsequently stood down, perhaps due to the dark arts. Around this time the election process was changed to preference voting. A further confusion was introduced when John Gaskell of Grassroots For Europe insisted to the Executive that the election was not for two months but for 14 months. This was not fully resolved and there should be further elections in November 2021, although my current assumption is that this was done in order to allow another election to take place if the result was not that which was desired. One of the Executive tried to get all the candidates to stand up against bad practice but largely failed. Here are the responses:

Smear campaign

The most disgraceful part of the election was a concerted and continuous smear campaign on the part of “Team Grassroots aka Team Yvonne”. I had maintained good communications with Yvonne Wancke, having worked with her previously on several projects and, whilst I do not believe Yvonne actively encouraged this campaign, she was made aware of it, refused to condemn it publicly and appeared to do nothing to stop it privately.

Letter from Yvonne

Eventually I had to issue a public statement on the matter but, by then, the damage was done.

Letter to EM Chairs
Defence Against The Dark Election Arts

Four separate pieces of information came to my attention over the final two weeks of the election:

A follow up letter from Colin Gordon just before purdah was announced which prevented making a reply to all those who had been contacted. I had fully explained answers to Colin’s questions, see FAQs This was sent to all 130 people eligible to vote, by which time the damage was done. Since that time Colin has made private requests by email and more public requests that the matter be airbrushed out of existence. Here is Colin’s letter sent to all eligible to vote.

A letter from Patrick Reynolds, John Gaskell, Colin Gordon (again), Chris Hammond and Robina Jacobson, all of whom are tied into Grassroots for Europe and some of whom are known as persistent agitators by the EM Executive. This was also sent to all 130 people for maximum impact. The impact was in fact to switch off many people from voting, what is commonly known as voter suppression. Paragraphs 4-5 below are directly targeted towards my candidacy and are untrue as outlined in my responses to Patrick. I tried to call Patrick on several occasions but he refused, stating that he had simply been annoyed that I’d used an abbreviation of his group’s name, commonly known as SSTIE, in our collaborative event. I would not have even known about this letter if it had not been for the fact that Patrick sent me a copy by mistake, as he did not realise I was a branch chair!!

Letter from SSTIE

I received information from a grassroots campaigner called Beth Linton that said I had organised a mass smearing campaign against Yvonne Wancke. When I asked for the evidence of the campaign none was forthcoming. When I asked to see the message I was told it could not be shared as it would be instantly recognisable as to who sent it. Eventually I managed to extract the syntax of what it said but it remains a mystery as to who sent it. Much of this messaging was done underground on WhatsApp etc.

“Just a heads up that Peter Cook is currently doing an online smear campaign against NE for Europe and our Chair Yvonne Wancke in particular”

In a similar vein and from a different source, this is completely untrue:

“Peter has only been a member of the EM for two months”

Inclusion

The EM had made a big fuss about the need for the election to be inclusive. Yet they refused to allow postal voting and only sent the invite out one day before the election at the height of the summer holidays on a Saturday afternoon. In the event, I have been contacted several times this week by people who either did not know there was an election, or, for whom the use of an online vote was too complicated for them to manage. See below:

Also I discovered I had inadvertently opted myself out from mail communication from the EM about 17 days ago.  Genuinely sorry you did not win.

I briefed my successor chair up to the hilt, including your reply on the fairness points which eclipsed the other two candidates. Unfortunately he failed to attend the meeting, blaming internet difficulties in his village in France. I’d reminded him the day before, so he could have asked me to fill in if he was aware of the problem. So our vote went to waste. I think the future of our movement lies outside EM anyway but sorry at how this turned out for you. Screw them in court!

Anna Bird was also advised that the database was not fit for purpose due to branch closures, membership changes and so on but she chose to continue with the election. The advice she was given proved to be correct. I was getting phone calls right up to the day of the election asking if there was an election. I have since had calls asking me what it was all about!

Last minute dot com

At 12.30 on the 4th September, I discovered that Richard Wilson had asked for the election to be cancelled. I was not party to the reasons why but can only conclude that he lacked confidence in Yvonne Wancke to win for him. This was misplaced and she won with a decisive majority. I wished Yvonne every success at the time of the election although I fear that the election has done nothing to deal with the underlying problems at The European Movement. A boil un-lanced and ignored just gets bigger and more toxic. As testament to this, here is one response to the EM from an eminent figure:

A boil un-lanced and ignored just gets bigger and more toxic.

The smearing continued after the election from members of NE4EU, Vets4EU and SODEM. I have concluded that The European Movement was not the organisation to take the lead in the fight against Brexit Chaos and to present a Pro-EU agenda at this time. I hope I am wrong. The movement contains many great members and the staff work extremely hard with limited resources, but something is afoot. I hope it can be resolved.

Coup D’etat?

This weekend, Lord Adonis conducts a Special General Meeting to amend elements of the EM constitution. I have received many communications to the effect that this is to be run along similar lines to the election, with the main purpose to be a power grab from the Executive. Hope is not a strategy but let us hope I am wrong. I wish them well, as without a centre we have no powers of multiplication of our efforts to Re-Boot Britain. You may be thinking about a dark motive in my writing of this article, as Colin Gordon said to me “Try to lose gracefully”. However, I am not a sad loser, as I never really went into the election expecting to win. I am however sad about the processes that were used, in contrast to the espoused values of The European Movement. I have a serious loss of faith and now know why Remain lost three times. I wish them well into the future and hope they will learn and improve from this moment. I fully stand by the comments I made about Lord Adonis. A good board member often acts as a “critical friend” rather than a “friendly co-pilot”. Roy Motteram nails it again and just for the record, here is my statement about Lord Adonis.

Sunday Express
From The Sunday Express article
Defence Against The Dark Election Arts

Brexit Choices for a Better Britain

As negotiations reach another hiatus, it’s a good idea to remind people that Brexit is not inevitable now that less than 37% of people still think that Brexit is a good idea. Here are the Brexit Choices for a Better Britain open to us at the moment.

Brexit Choices for a Better Britain
By the way “probability” is perhaps better expressed as “betting odds” – the numbers do not add up to 100% of course

In case people don’t understand why the EU cannot just give the UK what they want, consider the EU as a golf club with 28 members. One does not want to pay the subscriptions but still wants to use the club for gala dinners, special events and demands a free set of golf clubs every year without paying. The head of the golf club must decline. If he says yes, he will face a backlash from the other 27 paying members who will also want a rebate or more services for less money. The primary job of an enterprise is to protect its members and, regardless of our belligerence in the talks, The EU must set this aside and protect the greater good of the union.

We also have an unlikely ally on our side in the form of Theresa May at the moment, who has rebelled on several occasions taking others with her:

“I might have thought the government would have abandoned algorithms by now.”

We also heard how the Tory party abandoned Conservatism last week.

In case of doubt as to how these evaluations were arrived at, please read the associated articles:

SUSPEND BREXIT

THE REJOIN UNICORN

Brexit Choices for a Broken Britain

Take Action:

Report MP’s for breaking international law

Write to your MP and ask them to make Better Brexit Choices for a Better Britain, by opposing reckless behaviour by the Cabinet

Join us at Futurama – an arts festival to change the world

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Brexit Choices for a Better Britain

Borassic Park

Medway council made a complete cock up when they commissioned an art installation by Glastonbury artist Cold War Steve, but one which I have enjoyed immensely. It seems that the Tory controlled Council thought that it would be a nice idea to cheer their residents up by commissioning an art installation in Medway Country Park, a place for families to walk and cycle, freed from the troubles of the day. Imagine their surprise when they realised that Cold War Steve does surrealistic and satirical art on Brexit? Within hours complaints started to arrive. I heard that the Councillors then started fighting about “who dunnit”.

Brexit Blind Date – Click image to find Cold War Steve’s work

I was alerted about the installation by someone last Sunday. On Tuesday I had a “Ron Weasley moment” from Harry Potter, having a sudden and compelling need to go down to the installation. I told my wife and we set off. We almost immediately came upon one of the artworks which had been ripped off the stand and thrown into the River Medway. A crowd had assembled around the stand. I decided to shimmy down the bank, realising that I might find it hard to get back up, went out onto the mud and retrieved “Tim Wetherspoon”. I have dubbed Medway Country Park as “Borassic Park” as a result of Steve’s marvellous work.

Gammon in aspic

I called the Council to retrieve the artwork in case of theft and then called the media. The result was a piece in the Kent Messenger. The comments are hilarious and well worth reading.

An incensed caller to the newsroom said his granddaughter had been left shaken by the image of “a near naked Boris Johnson next to a mass grave”. He said: “What the hell are they playing at having such ‘art’ on display?

Truly offensive – Brexit – Find Cold War Steve’s work by clicking the image
Some of my fellow residents seem to think that I crave publicity and actually organised the attack. How very sad

I could not resist a little careful augmentation of a couple of the exhibits with some of The EU Flag Mafia’s Britastrophe Stickers whilst I was down there … placing the stickers carefully for pictures and then removing from the artworks.

Priti Patel welcomes migrants on the Essex coast
Matt Hancock oversees herd immunity for Old Age Brexiteers at the White Cliffs of Dover

We have asked Cold War Steve if he would like to work with us on a project at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury soon. Details to follow.

Fix my bike Dom

Read up on why Brexit can be suspended at Suspended Animation. Read up on why Rejoining may be a unicorn in the long term at Fool Britannia. Check out the implications of Brexit for Kent and Medway at Not In My Back Yard.

Write to your MP to demand that Brexit be suspended in the wake of Corona.

Snitch on MPs for voting to break international law.

Gammon Fest
Brexit Fiesta
AC Grayling

REJOIN, REJOICE, RE-BOOT

Today WED 8th September marks our masterclass with Professor AC Grayling on Rejoining the EU at 7 pm BST.

Please join us via Eventbrite.

Anthony Grayling is the author of about 30 books on philosophy, biography, history of ideas, human rights and ethics, including The Refutation of Scepticism (1985), The Future of Moral Values (1997), Wittgenstein (1992), What Is Good? (2000), The Meaning of Things (2001), The Good Book (2011), The God Argument (2013), The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind (2016) and Democracy and its Crises (2017).

Visit Anthony’s Amazon page

He has been a stalwart campaigner for our continuing membership of the European Union. Join us for this unique event. Professor Grayling will speak for 40 minutes, then 20 minutes for question followed by a facilitated event to digest the lessons from his talk.

A lot of school rules did not seen logical to me. I didn’t always conform

The event is co-promoted by Re-Boot Britain, Mid Kent European Movement, East Kent European Movement, Alliance4Europe and The Rejoin Party .

Alliance4Europe is a non-profit working to activate citizens for a more democratic, inclusive and sustainable Europe. It builds coalitions for pro-European action for more impactful campaigning. Omri Preiss is a co-founder and managing director of A4E, with a background in EU policy-making and human rights advocacy.