Dare and Care

Briefing Note For Opening Plenary Session

This briefing note has been prepared by INSEAD for the Opening Pleanary Session at the 2009 EBS. The session will run between 11.15 and 12.30 on Thursday 26th March 2009. The session will be moderated by Frank Brown, Dean, INSEAD.

Other speakers at this session will include:

Prof Jagdish Bhagwati, Professor, Columbia University

Rudi Thomaes, CEO Federation of Enterprises in Belgium

Prof Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister of Belgium

Gunter Verheugen, Vice-President, EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry

We are looking forward to an interesting and stimulating debate. Please feel free to comment at the end of this Briefing Note.

Stuart Langridge, Director of Blogactiv

Is Europe Really Daring And Caring?

Against the background of a crisis which still has not reached its maximum intensity, a call to ‘look beyond the turbulences’ is in itself a courageous option. In Europe, however, such a call is not only important but vital in more than one respect.

Modern Europe was built in the aftermath of the Second World War, as a way to secure durable peace in that part of the world. Progressively, it started to incarnate a unique ambition consisting in the simultaneous and balanced pursuit of competitiveness on one hand, and inclusion on the other. Most recently, and as Europe was welcoming a larger number of members from its Eastern and Central parts, this ambition has been translated into the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy, by which Europe was setting for itself a course to be an inclusive and competitive knowledge power.

The current crisis will either dilute or strengthen Europe’s ambition. To many, this may sound as a paradox, since it seems that the balanced approach it has followed and promoted may very well be one of the most resilient socio-economic models available to cope with the current crisis. The European model can both provide economic security to those who will be hit the hardest, and contribute to making the crisis shorter, less deep, and less destructive. More importantly in the longer term, it can also allow European economies and businesses to better prepare for post-crisis times, and ‘hit the road running’ when activity returns to normal levels.

To articulate this message in an action-oriented fashion, the Summit has chosen to address it – under the overarching theme of ‘Daring and Caring’- at three complementary levels, namely: finance, sustainable growth, and skills. The opening plenary will allow to set the scene and launch the debate on those three levels.

In one way or another, all participants in that session have a first hand experience of addressing one or several of the three dimensions chosen. Either as public decision makers (Van Rompuy, Verheuguen), or as business leaders (Thomaes) or as privileged analysts, authorities and observers of global trends and transformations (Bhagwati, Papademos, Brown). Their initial remarks and discussion will hence largely set the mood for the Summit, point at where a difference can be made and what kind of actions are most urgently required.

Among the issues likely to be raised and dated, the following are most likely to emerge:

  • The future is not what it used to be . How does the world look at itself and at its future now ? Are governments and businesses too busy surviving to be looking forward ? are we so hurried to ‘do the urgent thing’ that we might be forgetting to ‘do the important thing’ ?

  • It always gets darker before it turns pitch black. Major clouds accumulate on the horizon, bit are we considering the right ones ? is business too focused on the bottom line? are government too obsessed with the next election ? Cracks have started to appear in the process of globalization : can we handle a global financial crisis (the first ever) ? Can we prevent errors from the past from being repeated (protectionism) ? can we dilute the impact of the crisis on the weakest and the most exposed (emerging economies, the poor, smaller countries ..) ?

  • Is there light at the end of the tunnel ?

    • Is the European model (daring and caring) a strength or a handicap in times of turbulence ?
    • Are knowledge and innovation the real keys ? is there a future for the Lisbon strategy ?
    • Can ‘green growth’ be the cornerstone of a ‘European New deal’ ?
    • How are European businesses preparing for post-crisis times ?
    • What do each category of stakeholders expect from the others, and what does it consider as its own chief responsibility in addressing the current crisis /
    • Is it about money ?
    • What kind of skills and talents does Europe need to keep its ambitions alive through those turbulent times, and emerge as more competitive and more inclusive when the clouds clear ?

And – most importantly – who should take action, and how ?

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