The future of Europe is at stake here
What is the Brussels Economic Forum?
The Brussels Economic Forum (BEF) is the annual economic event of the European Commission. It brings together international political decision-makers along with representatives of business, academia and society at large. For more than 20 years, it has contributed to the debates around the critical upcoming challenges and priorities facing the European economy.
Along with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, this year's main speakers included the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, ECB President Christine Lagarde, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern. Further information on the Economic Forum can be found on the (in English).
What was the key issue?
In the light of the economic and social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the heading of this year's event was “Building the new economy we want”. Federal Chancellor Merkel expanded on this theme in her virtual speech. “We're not just creating a new economy. We're creating the Europe we want.”
The Federal Chancellor went on to explain: “The future of Europe is at stake here. It's about whether we as Europeans will be able to maintain our position in the world of tomorrow with our way of living, working and doing business, and how we can make that happen. It's about how we can assert our values, our interests and our conception of what form globalisation should take.
What do we want Europe to be like in the future?
The Federal Chancellor expressed the view that if Europe was to stand up “for the values and interests of our liberal, constitutional democracies and social market economies”, it would have to become “more autonomous, more innovative and more capable of action”. This particularly applied in times of crisis, but was true at all other times as well, she said.
Federal Chancellor Merkel drew attention to the “unprecedented European recovery package” that had been initiated for this purpose. She explained how it would “allow us not only to offset the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, but also to expedite acute assistance for Europe's transition into a climate-neutral and digital continent.”
What is the purpose of the Padoa-Schioppa Memorial Lecture?
The Tomasso Padoa-Schioppa Memorial Lecture at the Brussels Economic Forum was brought into being as a memorial to the former Italian Minister of Economy and Finances, who died in 2010. Padoa-Schioppa was a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB) and is considered one of the founding fathers of the euro.
The first Padoa-Schioppa Memorial Lecture was given by the then Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2011. The subsequent speakers have been:
- Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (2012)
- WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy (2013)
- President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (2014)
- ECB President Mario Draghi (2016)
- Governor of the Banque de France François Villeroy de Galhau (2017)
- President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (2018)
- Nobel Prizewinner for Economics Sir Christopher Pissarides (2019)
- Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (2021)