21st Century Council

A forum for dialogue on global governance, with a focus on the G-20 as the governing body of globalization. Members include former heads of state, global entrepreneurs and political thinkers.

Council for the Future of Europe

This Council gathers a small group of the region's most eminent political figures to research and debate ways forward for a united Europe.

Think Long Committee for California

Develops comprehensive approaches to repairing California's broken system of governance while evaluating policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future.

9 October 2014
Faculty and European Leaders Deepen the Debate at the 2014 Summit On The Future of Europe at Harvard

Carl Bildt addresses the 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe

On September 22, 2014 the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES) welcomed a distinguished group of participants at the 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe ­– a cooperation between CES, the Berggruen Institute on Governance and The WorldPost. The day’s speakers included Carl Bildt, Vuk Jeremić, and Mario Monti as well as Mark BlythRichard CooperNiall Ferguson and Joseph Nye.  Below is a summary and select highlights of the proceedings. 

Over the course of an off-the-record round table in the morning, a lively debate over lunch, and a public lecture in the afternoon, most participants agreed on three key points:

  • How Europe decides to confront Putin over the Ukraine crisis will shape the continent for years to come.
  • Confronting Putin head-on would require a substantial monetary and military commitment – and may even involve compromising on some core political principles which many Europeans hold dear.
  • Integrating Ukraine into the Western alliance will require a massive restructuring of its economy, and likely cannot be achieved without significant monetary aid from Western and Central Europe.

While most participants agreed on some of the analysis, they vividly disagreed on the best course of action. In Joseph Nye’s terminology (see article “A Western Strategy for a Declining Russia" in Project Syndicate ), the Summit debates crystallized along two axes: the "squeezers" who favored applying serious economic and military pressure on Putin and the "dealers," who advocated for resolving the conflict through negotiation. 

The squeezers believed that Putin respects strength more than weakness. They argued that he acts opportunistically, trying to increase Russia's reach when he sees a tactical opening, but that his fundamental position is ultimately weak. The West, they were convinced, can manage Putin's ambitions by demonstrating strength and adopting policies that will weaken his position. But if Europe fails to help Ukraine, it will, as Carl Bildt put the point, face "an even more complicated future."

L-R: Mario Monti, Grzegorz Ekiert

To confront Putin, Europe will have to make changes that will be deeply controversial on a continent long committed to environmentalism and marked by an aversion to the use of force. The squeezers suggested tough sanctions on Putin; one speaker at the morning session suggested – a little mischievously – that Europe could raise the stakes by sending its own set of "volunteers" to defend Ukraine. Beyond that, the squeezers agreed, European countries would need to beef up their defense budgets; buy LNG terminals; build a pipeline from Spain to France which would make it easier for North African gas to reach large parts of Europe; and re-activate atomic power plants lying idle in Germany .

The dealers, on the other hand, argued that Putin is feeling genuinely threatened by the Eastward expansion of NATO and the EU. They therefore believed that negotiations with Russia could lead to an agreement that will be respected by both sides, and set the stage for easing tensions between Russia and the West. Though they did not foresee Russia's hostility towards the West disappearing anytime soon, they were more optimistic about the country's long-term future: a liberal, economically successful Russia, they argued, will come about – but its arrival is a matter of generations, not years.

This still leaves open the question, put starkly by Graham Allison over lunch, of who Europe would fight for? Mario Monti and Carl Bildt were adamant that Western Europe would uphold its NATO commitments. But whether the West would risk a major confrontation over non-NATO members, like Ukraine, remained an open question. Bildt's observation that the crisis had already succeeded in making half of Europe – the states that had once been under the control of the Soviet Union – increase their defense budget was as eloquent in what it left out: so far, most Western nations have not upped their commitment to military spending. At the same time, Vuk Jeremić's criticism of the West's supposed disregard for Serbian sovereignty highlighted that the countries west of Ukraine have some lingering disagreements of their own to overcome.

L-R: Niall Ferguson, Carl Bildt, Mario Monti, Vuk Jeremić

Also at lunch, a number of economists sought Monti’s thoughts on Europe’s monetary policy. Monti posited, somewhat humorously, that German economists still regard monetary policy as a branch of moral philosophy: they do not believe in fiscal expansion because sin can only be expiated by atonement. Though Monti defended the need for fiscal discipline, he implicitly criticized such a moralized approach.

Another topic that elicited both agreement about the basic choice set and disagreement about the best course of action was the future of Ukraine itself. All participants agreed that the West could only co-opt the country by promising it a better economic future. But they diverged about how difficult it would be to proffer a real prospective to Ukrainians. Dealers emphasized that Ukraine's economy is in terrible shape, and its government rife with corruption. Squeezers retorted that Ukraine's long-term prospects were excellent thanks to its highly arable land and a long tradition of manufacturing; if Ukraine can access world markets and its politicians carry out the right reforms, they suggested, the country might have a more prosperous future than pessimists predict.

The 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe is a partnership of Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, the Berggruen Institute on Governance and The WorldPost. It was launched to convene scholars and policymakers at Harvard University in order to deepen the debate on critical challenges facing Europe, as well as generate ideas that support effective policy responses.

15 July 2014

Carl Bildt
We would like to take this opportunity to welcome and introduce Carl Bildt, who joins our Council for the Future of Europe.

Carl Bildt has been Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden since 2006. From 1991 until 1994, Mr. Bildt served as Sweden's Prime Minister. Prior to that, he was a Special Adviser for coordination functions in the Swedish Government (1976 - 1978). Mr. Bildt was also the Chair of the International Democratic Union (1992 - 1999). He was very active in resolving the conflict in the Balkans, serving as a Co-Chair of the Dayton Peace Talks on Former Yugoslavia (1995) and a High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina for reconstruction and the peace implementation process (1996 - 1997).) Mr. Bildt was the first Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Balkans (1999 - 2001).

28 February 2014

At our “Project Europe” town hall, which took place in Madrid on February 27-28, European leaders from public and private sectors and the media gathered to discuss the issues most pressing to the European economic climate, including youth unemployment, investment and jobs, labor mobility, and migration – as well as populism and the upcoming 2014 European Parliamentary elections.

The meeting was headlined by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and recently resigned Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.


Rajoy, Passos Coelho, and Letta at the “Project Europe” Town Hall

Former Director-General of the WTO and Council for the Future of Europe member Pascal Lamy introduced the conference with a call for European leaders to tackle “the three key deficits in the European Union today – growth, governance, and belonging.”


Pascal Lamy introducing the Town Hall

Following this introduction, Enrico Letta – Prime Minister of Italy until two weeks ago – made his first public comments since leaving office. He warned the town hall that the rise of populism, fueled as it may be by real concerns over immigration and youth unemployment, would not lead Europe out of its crisis. "They are only against," he said, "but offer no alternatives." Letta raised the specter of populist parties gaining a significant share of votes in the European Parliament elections in May, and bringing the kind of "filibuster politics" we have seen from Washington to Europe.


Former Italian Prime Minister Letta warned against the rise of populism

He called for all pro-Europeans to band together to provide a real alternative so that the "flag of Europe is the flag of the future."

Later that evening, Letta’s predecessor Mario Monti, chair of our Council for the Future of Europe, participated in a “fireside chat” with former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez to discuss a roadmap for Europe. In his remarks, Monti called upon "France to become France again" and stop being "timid" in its approach to Europe.


Felipe González, Mario Monti, and Nicolas Berggruen before Day 1 of the Town Hall

Also featured on the first day of the town hall were two panels and a speech from Luis de Guindos on the future of the Eurozone. The first panel - “Europe’s Top Priority: Investment and Jobs”- was moderated by Jose Ignacio Torreblanca of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and included Magdalena Alvarez Arza, Vice President of the European Investment Bank; Giuseppi Recchi, the Chairman of ENI; Pierre Blayau, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Areva; David Bonderman, the Chairman of TGI Capital and member of the Council for the Future of Europe; and Jacob von Weizsacker, Head of Department, Thuringian Economics Ministry.

A second panel, moderated by Maria Casado, focused on “Migration, Labor Mobility and Youth Unemployment”, and included Jörg Asmussen, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; Peter Sutherland, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Migration & Development; Marina del Corral, Secretary General of Immigration and Emigration, Spain; and Ignacio Fernández Toxo, President of the European Trade Union Confederation.

Nicolas Berggruen opened Day 2 of the Town Hall

The second day of the conference opened with an introduction from Nicolas Berggruen, in which he said that the three pillars of Europe – the single market, economic integration and the free movement of people – are all being challenged.

Following these remarks, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho addressed the town hall on the subject of Portugal’s future. He argued that completing a European banking union was of utmost importance to mend fragmented financial markets that are depriving Europe’s southern countries of the affordable credit they need to grow.

His plea was echoed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who gave the town hall’s closing keynote. Rajoy said that, now that Spain is over the worst of the financial crisis and headed toward recovery, Europe should not be complacent, but move forward quickly toward fiscal and, ultimately, political union.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano gave the closing keynote at the town hall

Prime Minister Rajoy also told the town hall that the Council for the Future of Europe “has become the benchmark in reflection and debate on the future of the project of European integration.”

The second day also featured two very robust panels. The first, chaired by Sylvie Goulard, focused on populism and the upcoming European Parliamentary elections with candidates representing all parties. During the panel, Guy Verhofstadt – former Prime Minister of Belgium, President of ALDE, and member of the Council for the Future of Europe – criticized the isolationist streak of populism. "How can we solve global issues by hiding behind our borders?” he asked. “All challenges are transnational." Michel Barnier, vice-president of the European People's Party, argued that pro-Europeans must respond with a positive vision of Europe to the real concerns of populists -- youth unemployment and jobs, immigration, bureaucracy and red tape in Brussels, and the lack of democratic legitimacy of European institutions. The panel also included Monica Frassoni, Co-chair of the European Green Party; Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Secretary General of the Spanish Socialists Workers’ Party; and Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, Minister of European Affairs. 

Pablo Isla and César Alierta in their panel on Spanish competitiveness

In a panel on Spanish competitiveness, Pablo Isla, Chairman of Inditex, and César Alierta, Executive Chairman of Telefónica, both warned that the economy’s recovery from the recession was not enough to produce jobs and long-term growth in Europe. Facing the advances of digital technology and competition from the US and China, Europe must make the tough structural changes in labor markets and regulation in order to become competitive again.

The entire proceedings were streamed live on The WorldPost, which can be seen here (Day 1) and here (Day 2). Comments by Rajoy, Passos Coelho, Monti and Letta can also be found on The WorldPost.