14 May 2013
10 May 2013
Held for the first time in Germany, on 24th of November, WIL biannual event was held in a pro-European environment, where prominent speakers, WIL members, guests and members of the Network European Movement Germany, which partnered with us for this event, exchanged their views on the current status of European Union and discussed possible solutions to regain the European strength.
The event was opened by Thaima Samman, WIL President, who stressed the European mission of the network and the intention of intensifying its activity in Germany.
Roundtable 1 - Delivering the Right Mechanisms to Strengthen the Single Market
As WIL board member, Ms Marie-Therese Huppertz, Vice President Governmental relations of SAP AG, moderated the discussion and expressed the need of supporting the EU in times when the European leaders are struggling to find a viable path to a stronger unity.
Ms Ana Palacio, Special advisor of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship to the European Commission and former Minister of External Affairs in Spain, shared her view on the crisis and opened the discussion of the first panel, on delivering the right mechanisms to strengthen the Single Market. In her view, the current crisis has three major drivers: loss of citizens’ confidence in the European Union, pressure of the markets, which are now driving political decisions and the failure of European policies, which is being dominated by the local policy. Looking for a source of solution, Mrs Palacio proposed a “back to basic” approach. According to her view, there is a need to reinforce the already signed treaties and aim for unity, harmonize Europe from within, make the single market more functional for services and people, not only for capital, allow the political act to become politically rather than economically driven and promote the idea of unity and belief in a common future to the younger generation.
Mr Guillaume Klossa, President of EuropaNova, spoke about the economic and political pressures EU and EU countries are facing; they are being considered as risk areas by investors outside Europe. He stressed the need for filling the gap between citizens and politicians. In his vision, the roots of the single market would lie in an authentic democratization of the Union. In order to regain the investors’ trust, investments in innovation, research and education are necessary.
The founder and CEO of Go Beyond Ltd, Member of the Board of the European Business Angels Network, Ms Brigitte Baumann, expressed a more optimistic view on Europe, listing technology, innovation and research as areas which are still attractive for foreign investment. Potential sources of immediate reinvigoration of the European economy would be: entrepreneurship, access to finance and a higher level of women involvement in innovation and technology. Ms Baumann called for more agility, less thinking and more action in the European economic space. As potential sources of immediate reinvigoration of the European economy she listed entrepreneurship, financing and a higher level of women’s involvement.
Ms Viviane de Beaufort, Professor at ESSEC and Co-Director of the European Centre for Law and Economics, analysed the European competitiveness from a legal point of view. There is a need to rethink the rules or to change their application in order to build an external side of the single market, create the conditions for European companies to invest in external markets, better implement intellectual property rights and ensure reciprocity for fare trade rather than free trade. Four areas of the Single Market need to be improved: foreign investment, government procurement, takeover rules and competition rules. In Ms de Beaufort’s view, we should open new markets by bilateral agreements and by introducing the reciprocity principle at an international level. She also stressed the need to change the legal framework in four areas, in which Europe is acting as Single Market: EU Control over foreign investment, takeover rules, competition rules and legal opening of government procurement. The speaker concluded with a positive note, mentioning the big changes at the political level in EU and the European Commission’s work on changing the ways of applying the rules.
Roundtable 2 - Restoring Confidence and Stimulating Growth and Jobs in the European Social Market Economy
The second panel discussed the issue of restoring confidence in the EU and job creation. Its moderator, Ms Dorothee Belz, Associate General Counsel at Microsoft and WIL Vice President, gave an overview of the different perceptions of the European Union in Germany in different environments.
Mr Rainer Wieland, Vice President of the European Parliament, expressed his belief in the success of the EU. He defined the Euro crisis as a crisis of national states, not a union crisis and called for a temperate voice of European western countries, inviting them to think that their welfare might be temporary in the context of global economy. Mr Wieland also stressed the importance of regaining the trust of the citizens by educating them about the benefits European Union brings, including peace and sustainability. As an inspiration to solving the financial crisis he mentioned the example of the success of Islamic banks and stressed the need to focus on a financial platform to generate sustainability.
Ms Brigitte Baumann called for legislation at a European level, less local entrepreneurship and promotion of an innovative culture by building strong bridges between universities, industries and entrepreneurs in order to leverage new product development.
Ms Ulrike Guérot, the Head of Berlin Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, spoke about the German citizens feeling a sense of unfairness, which is generated by lack of consistence in political messages and the disconnection between citizens, business and politics. In her view, Europe is currently facing a confidence crisis rather than a debt crisis.
Supporting the idea of EU solidarity, Ms Irina Gruschewaja, Founder of „To The Children of Tschernobyl“ foundation, presented an analogy between the Greece’s need for financing and the way in which Berlin is financially supported by Bavarians.
Ms Andreea Paul, Counsellor of the Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, summarized the discussion and shared her experience as the Chief of the Competence Council in Romania. She stressed the need for a more united Europe. In her view, diminishing the gender gap is a source of more stable, more creative and less corrupted economic environment.
During the ”Women of Europe 2011” evening ceremony award, The Network European Movement in Germany honoured Irina Gruschewaja, the founder of To The Children of Tschernobyl foundation for her efforts to fight the radiations effect on children in the context of Belarus government blockage.
WiL’s pro-European message was presented to the audience by Prof. Ursula Männle, Board Member of European Movement Germany, and Mrs Rita Süssmuth, President of the German Federal Parliament a.D..who, among other event participants encouraged WiL’s activity, especially its Appeal for Europe, stating: “Once we talk with each other the pieces of the puzzle can be assembled. If we do not talk, we fall apart.”
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