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Sandeep Kishore

WEF Europe – key observations

Sandeep KishoreSandeep Kishore

Participating at World Economic Forum (WEF)  Europe at Brussels early this month ( May 10/11) was quiet an experience. It’s a phenomenal platform for global leaders from govt., public, social, business etc. to come together to share their experience, express their views and commit to taking actions that help in improving the state of the world, which is the motto of WEF.  If each of us work with this motto – in whatever we do – be it in any shape or form ; the improvement will be positively impacted for sure.  WEF focus on improving the state of world was key in all the discussions / panels / public and private meetings etc. I also think that the commitment from all to change was evident, be in the Presidents / Prime Ministers of EU countries who supported the same or the intensity of the business leaders, even if they approached it from different levels. All the sessions were connected to the core theme – growth thru sustainability, climate, demographic drivers, economic growth, regulations in EU, strategic agenda 2020 and beyond, energy security, innovation and technology, near aboard…

Since this meet was focused on Europe and it started literally a few hours later than European Union getting the Trillion Dollar deal done to tide over their economic crisis, most of the discussions were around EU monetary and economic situation. With 27 member states, EU clearly needs a far better governance and economic policy coordination to ensure that the deep crisis that they have seen should not happen again… EU certainly looks aligned both from solidarity and stability perspective. Crisis did provide a catalyst for improvement and with a single currency , common defense mechanism is also an important element for EU success. Illusions of prosperity – many EU countries are living beyond their means as their debts as a % of GDP has gone outrageously high ( Greece and Italy both at >100% ), Balance of payment – insufficient cash flow – having enough money to pay of the debts is the other major issues for them as well.

Govt. leaders talked about how they worked together and navigated thru the recent EU crisis and business leaders asked  – why did the situation go this far / where were the checks and balances and also what’s been done differently now from policies and regulations to improve business conditions in EU to make local companies competitive in the new global world… there were no clear answers…

70% of the trade done by EU countries are among themselves ; its time they start looking outside towards emerging economies and also drive balanced growth with other mature markets.

It was very interesting to note that all the EU leaders – both from Govt and Business were clear on one thing – for sustainable economic growth in Europe, people need to work more and work longer hours.. if they want to be competitive and relevant in the new world..  Lack of labor mobility was discussed as a key issue in Europe. People simply don’t want to move to new locations for new opportunities….. combined with the projected demographics and aging population, this is going to be one of the biggest hindrance for growth in EU…

Turkey is extremely keen to be a part of the EU and have been pushing real hard. Their Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU – Egemen Bagis did a hard sell to the forum and EU with information on economic ( 6th largest in Europe and 16th in the world ), political stability, young working population ( average age in Turkey is 28 v/s 40 in EU ), Energy Security, Cultural Diversity, Agricultural and environmental sustainability…. Clear positioning was EU would be better off with Turkey than without it, they will positively impact EU in their global status.  The minister was very aggressive – have not seen this in a long time in a Govt. representative…. now I know where the name “young turk” came from !!

With some extremely thought provoking meetings with the global leaders across govt and businesses…WEF was a very positive experience for me…. Lets get to work on improving the state of the world… one step at a time…

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