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Recapitulation. Conclusions. Recommendations

EEC 2012 - 24-05-2012
The European Economic Congress 2012 is over, so let’s try to recapitulate and also look forward.
The largest business event of Central Europe is over. 6,000 guests returned to their own institutions and businesses, commitments and problems, which have not disappeared. As EEC 2012 organisers, we want the ending of the Congress to be the onset of a new forward-looking project.

The outcome of the Congress is an extensive body of records concerning over a hundred debates and side events – substantive fruit that needs to be put in order and edited. We took the first step and picked the most representative, most often-recurring statements and opinions on the state and future of Europe and the European economy.

We want the activities of our guests – their opinions and observations, assessments and arguments – to be the onset of a broader European debate and to accompany the changes that we will see in the months to come.

Conclusions and ideas put forth at congress meetings and debates will live and provide inspiration providing that relevant support is provided by congress attendees – people who identify themselves with the idea of the Congress and who create open European dialogue.

You can now see a draft of post-congress conclusions – edited right after the end of the Congress. We look forward to your remarks, including (or, perhaps, primarily) polemic ones, complementary notes and proposals. The Congress comprises almost one hundred debates covering a broad thematic range. To embrace them all and draw out the most important elements will take a lot of teamwork. It will allow all of us – along with the conclusions drawn from the 4th edition – to jointly shape the themes of the future 5th edition of the European Economic Congress.

We believe that we can rely on you.

The Organisers

EEC 2012 First conclusions

Time for changes

Europe needs to change. There is no time for mistakes and for harbouring illusions. Without growth, it will be on the decline. It requires acceleration – an escape forwards.

EU’s new financial perspective 2013-2020 needs to respond to these objectives and ambitions – this cannot be a strategy of survival, it must be a growth strategy focused on various forms of investments.

European politicians should work out a consensus regarding the most important issues – primarily those including the pro-developmental character of the new budget perspective.

Entrepreneurs must invest in innovations, cooperation with science and controlled, “reasonable” risk. An attitude marked by withdrawal and waiting will not result in an economic rebound and will extend the period of stagnation.

The context of the crisis impedes sensible talk on European cooperation and is fertile ground for populism. We need optimism, determination and a belief in the effects of changes.

Europe and the world

Europe cannot focus on itself any longer. The world’s economic poles have shifted. Europe should reach out to the world, accept the new arrangement of powers in the global economy and draw benefits from the rising role of Asian and BRIC countries.

European politicians and entrepreneurs should face global challenges without inhibitions, but also without illusions regarding the role of Europe in the world, which is no longer crucial and leading.

We need to come to terms with this: Europe is no longer able to compete with such countries as China, India and Brazil when it comes to attractiveness for investments. Therefore, the only chance to maintain current investment competitiveness is to focus on innovation and cooperation with other countries.

In the world of today, expansion beyond one’s own cultural area must be preceded by development of a platform for understanding, identification of cultural differences and mutual acceptance. An opening towards Asian countries, particularly China, may be an important developmental stimulus for the European economy. The Chinese grand scale and momentum may be complementary with European creativity and technologies if principle of reciprocity and an even spread of benefits are maintained.

Competitive Europe

Europe’s return to a path of growth depends on the competitiveness of its economy. New jobs will only be created with a GDP growth of 3-4 per cent.

As market competition grows, many traditional sectors will disappear in Europe, and we will need new ones that will replace them. By disregarding these inevitable changes, we deprive ourselves of the chance to use them for our own benefit. Further growth of the European economy will inevitably be connected with modern technologies. The EU budget for 2014-2020 should primarily be the driving force behind innovations.

The countries of Central Europe will face a difficult transition from energy-intensive production with a low processing level and comparably low workforce cost to a knowledge-based economy. This will entail the need to reform educational models and lift formal barriers in cooperation between business and science.

Today’s objective for business, political and scientific elites is to create a culture of innovative entrepreneurship. The private sector must be bolder in contributing to funding research projects if it wants to use new solutions.

Discipline and growth

EU regulations of the financial sector should not be a hindrance to economic growth. What will be a remedy in some European countries can be destructive in others. We will need to wait a few years to see whether regulations will promote development or result in a post-crisis regulation shock.

The need arises to balance activities aimed at stabilisation and recovery of investors’ and financial markets’ trust and economic growth stimuli. This, however, shall not entail resignation from discipline – particularly when it comes to the state of some countries’ public finance.

Politics and climate

One should not expect a withdrawal from the climate policy, and the EU should act consistently here. On the other hand, we should not harbour illusions that the world will pursue a path set by Europe; and certainly not at a rate proposed by some climate policy promoters of Europe.

Thus, it will be necessary to adapt to new conditions at the level of state economies. The adaptation process may run in various ways and have various effects depending on the structure of the economy and the energy industry of the member state. For some economies, the adaptation process will be particularly difficult, costly and time-consuming.

State energy policies and the EU climate protection policy are not opposed to each other. Escalation of CO2 emission limits is a real threat to production growth and even to the very existence of some industries; yet a low-emission economy is also an opportunity for development of new technologies, cost reductions and competitiveness on permanent foundations.

Energy, security and market

In today’s economy, materials – primarily energy carriers, their availability and prices – will be an important factor for competitiveness, stability and economic success. A key to common European energy security will be reconstruction of the infrastructure of the energy and fuel sector.

New connections, resulting from completed or planned common trans-European infrastructural investments will create alternative opportunities to import fuels, improve the negotiation situation of European importers, enhance market mechanisms and prevent deficiencies.

The slogan – more integration as a remedy to the economic slump – must translate into practice. We cannot build a common internal market as part of the EU if we do not build a harmonised energy market first.

Europe can accommodate a wide variety of energy sources. Development will occur primarily in gas energy industry – treated also as a stabilising factor, balancing the rising role of renewable energy sources in the European energy mix. Issues of crucial importance will include the globally shaped prices of gas and more stable and reliable state systems of renewable energy sources.

An important advantage of the EU’s economy is its own energy resources, which should not be dogmatically renounced, but extracted and used in a way optimum for the environment – as well as using new technologies and non-standard methods.