The fifth edition of the European Forum for New Ideas in Sopot closed with a festive gala attended by prominent guests such as Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. This year’s Forum welcomed 1300 guests from 28 countries. Among them were outstanding researchers, politicians, and businesspeople, who define new trends in the development of world economy. The 64 hours of programme events and discussions, many of which continued late into the night, were filled with debates about the future of Europe in the context of growing inequality and changing geopolitical threats. The Forum was crowned with a party for the signatories of the 2015 Sopot Declaration.
'It is high time we returned to our roots. We have to rediscover the concept of the founding fathers of united Europe. The Schuman Declaration, which laid the foundations for the European community in the 1950s, includes the prophetic words: “Europe will not be made all at once: it will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” This solidarity is what we want today,' said Henryka Bochniarz, President of the Polish Confederation Lewiatan and Vice President of BUSINESSEUROPE, in her speech opening the gala.
Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the EFNI Programme Council, also took the floor. 'We have defined vital truths, such as maximum freedom for individual entrepreneurs. Yet we cannot forget about the other side, that is macroeconomics. This is where we certainly need regulations to prevent the free market from getting out of hand. We are not always capable of controlling economic trends, which are stronger than state regulations,' Buzek said. 'We have exchanged our ideas, we discussed the points of concord and the points of disagreement, and that precisely is the core of democracy,' he added at the close of his speech.
Łukasz Kalinowski, CEO and General Director at MetLife, Andrzej Klesyk, President of the Management Board of PZU SA, and Wojciech Szpil, CEO of Totalizator Sportowy, summed up the results of this year’s EFNI. They agreed on both the significance of and the difficulties in devising binding solutions. They also emphasized the particular importance of an open discussion.
Kalinowski referred to the special role and responsibility of businesspeople and managers towards the victims of inequality.
'Any solutions must be developed as a result of dialogue, and we have to be willing to continue the dialogue we have initiated here,' said Klesyk.
'Common market is our common cause. I hope that the brainstorming we did during the panel discussions will translate into further actions,' concluded Szpil.
The central point of the evening was the adoption of the Sopot Declaration, which each year becomes the summary of the key conclusions from the debates and indicates new political and economic directions.
Referring to the content of the 2015 Sopot Declaration, Henryka Bochniarz said: 'We emphasize the need to fight social inequality, but so as to not throw the baby out with the bathwater by introducing protectionism, renationalization, or restriction of economic freedom. We appeal for a return to the roots and for orientation towards the values which constitute Europe’s foundation. We say a decided ‘no’ to building a fortress Europe, closed against otherness, diversity, and support for those who are escaping war and persecution,' underlined Bochniarz.
'The Europeans are undermining the values and accomplishments that have made the European project successful. All too often, our political decisions are rooted in fear, selfishness, and prejudice. This approach fails to generate solutions, and instead builds up the voices of populists and confuses the general public,' thus this year’s Sopot Declaration points to one of the threats that modern Europe has to face. The document was handed to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.
'I wish to congratulate the organizers of EFNI on their uncanny intuition,' said Donald Tusk. 'Inequality and geopolitics are clearly inseparable. As far back as I can remember, economic and social inequality have always been crucial geopolitical factors. They may now become a factor which will principally alter geopolitics,' he said.
In addition, Tusk emphasized that the challenges which the Old World has to face do not inevitably entail its crisis. 'I do not share the pessimism present in the discussion on Europe’s current condition. It is essential for Europe to regain its ability to defend what is most important for us and what we can be proud of,' Tusk said.
The key speaker of the evening was Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, who reminded the audience of Poland’s and Europe’s development so far as well as of the role Poland should play in the emerging united world.
'When I was drafting the economic plan for Poland in 1989, Jacek Kuroń told me I could write whatever I wanted. He only told me to note down the first sentence: “This is a plan for Poland’s return to Europe.”,' recalled Sachs.
'No one could imagine a united Europe back in 1989, and today here I am, saying that we can unite the world. Europe has the impression of a crisis because of the refugees, but it is none other than Europe that should take the lead now. No one has a greater experience with migration than Europe,' said Sachs, referring to the migration crisis.
'EU countries lead in the surveys of happiness I carry out. Don't worry so much, be joyful. Among all places around the globe, it is Europe that combines the notions necessary to create a united world,' Sachs summed up.
The conclusion of the European Forum for New Ideas again proved that the rapid geopolitical changes and potential crisis situations do not preclude an open discussion, which can bring a fresh perspective of the emerging problems. The participants of the Forum’s previous editions were often correct in their predictions of the upcoming changes. Therefore the optimism of tonight’s speakers allows us to trust in Europe’s future and the effectiveness of its reactions to new challenges.
THE EUROPEAN FORUM FOR NEW IDEAS is an international business congress attended by prominent representatives of politics, culture, science, and media. It has been organized since 2011 by the Polish Confederation Lewiatan in cooperation with BUSINESSEUROPE, the city of Sopot, and Polish and foreign companies and organizations. The Forum is aimed at creating ideas for a strong Europe and a competitive economy, a Europe open to trends of social growth and technology. This year's EFNI will be held on 30 September – 2 October 2015 in Sopot, and its theme is: Europe and the World in the Face of Growing Inequality, Radicalism, and Geopolitical Threats
More information: www.efni.pl
Honorary patronage President of the Republic of Poland, European Parliament
Institutional partners Polish Industrial Development Agency S.A., European Commission, National Centre for Research and Development
Strategic partners MetLife, PKN ORLEN, PZU, Totalizator Sportowy, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Grupa Onet.pl, TVP SA
Opening Gala partner Bank Pekao S.A.
Main partners Biznes.pl, BMW, Citi Handlowy, Discovery NETWORKS CEEMEA, Forbes, France 24, Intel, Microsoft, Newsweek, Orange Polska, Parkiet, PKP S.A., Silvermedia
Supporting partners AMS, Bloomberg Businessweek Polska, Gazeta Wyborcza, Havas Worldwide, Liberté!, McCANN Worldgroup, PAP Polish Press Agency, PGNiG SA, Polish Association of Employers in Mining Industry, Pomeranian Special Economic Zone, Puls Biznesu, Starcom MediaVest Group, Polish Association of Employers in Transport and Logistics, Warsaw Business Journal Observer, Association of Private Employers in Energy Industry, Digital Technology Employers Lewiatan
Knowledge partners Ashoka, Aspen Institute Prague, Centre for International Relations, demosEUROPA – Centre for European Strategy, ECFR, Institute of Public Affairs, POLITYKA INSIGHT, Res Publica Nowa, THINKTANK, Global Compact in Poland – an Initiative of the UN Secretary General, World Academy of Art and Science
Logistics partner Lech Wałęsa Airport in Gdańsk
Official carrier PLL LOT
Executive Producer IDFX
Zbigniew Maciąg, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone number: +48 604 589 080