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.
10 October 2013
Mario Monti has agreed to serve as Chairman of the Council for the Future of Europe (CFE). The Council has built its reputation advocating for solutions to youth unemployment, empowerment of financial institutions, and a stronger political union.
Monti joined the Council in 2011 at the invitation of Nicolas Berggruen, the founder of the Berggruen Institute on Governance and original Chairman of the Council. He remained in close contact with the Council throughout his tenure as Prime Minister of Italy, a role he was appointed to in November 2011 by President Giorgio Napolitano in the midst of Italy's economic and financial crisis.
"We are extremely pleased that Mario has agreed to chair the Council," said Nicolas Berggruen. "His breadth of experience and distinguished reputation will no doubt enhance the impact we can have on issues of importance to the future of the continent. With his leadership, we intend to draw into this action-oriented debate more diverse and younger voices, including stakeholders who often feel extraneous to the process of European integration or frustrated by its outcomes."
Prior to courageously undertaking the leadership of Italy during its hour of need, Monti had a direct role in the governance of the EU, first as Commissioner for the Internal Market, Financial Services and Tax Policy (1995-99), then as Commissioner for Competition (1999-2004). He is currently President of Bocconi University and a Senator for life.
6 June 2013
An Urgent Initiative for Youth Employment in Europe
At “Europe, Les prochaines étapes," a “town hall” meeting in Paris on May 28 sponsored by the Berggruen Institute on Governance and Sciences Po, European leaders called for “urgent action” to respond to the crisis of youth unemployment. There are nearly 6 million young people under the age of 25 without jobs today.
Town Hall audience gathered at Sciences Po, 28 May, 2013
Addressing the gathering, French President François Hollande called for an “offensive” against youth unemployment, saying “we need to act quickly. In this battle time is the decisive factor.” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, where youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe, called for “action now without delay.”
President François Hollande delivers the opening keynote address
Also participating in the gathering were German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen, French Labor Minister Michel Sapin and the Italian Labor Minister Enrico Giovannini. Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, and Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, were also present.
(From Left) François Lenglet, Minister Enrico Giovannini, Werner Hoyer, Ministers Pierre Moscovici, Michel Sapin, Ursula von der Leyen, and Wolfgang Schäuble
Other participants in the meeting included elder statesmen and former leaders such as Jacques Delors, Felipe González, François Fillon and Mario Monti along with student delegations from Sciences Po, the London School of Economics and the Hertie School in Berlin.
The centerpiece of the event was the launch of a “growth initiative for Europe” drafted by the German and French labor ministries in conjunction with the Berggruen Institute.
Ursula von der Leyen outlined the three main elements of the plan:
Several participants of the meeting called for “frontloading” the EURO 6 billion to be spent immediately. Prime Minister Rajoy called for a further EURO 30 billion in capitalization for the EIB to fight youth unemployment.
Prime Minister Rajoy delivers the closing keynote address
EIB President Werner Hoyer committed the bank to this initiative as a key way not only to fight youth unemployment, but to prevent further fragmentation of European financial markets which have made credit scarce for SME, which produce most new jobs.
After the morning session at Sciences Po, the labor and finance ministers met at the Elysee Palace with President Hollande to chart the path forward for this initiative. Ursula von der Leyen laid out a “roadmap” for implementation that will include a summit of all European labor ministers and Heads of public employment services in Berlin in July, hosted by Chancellor Merkel and EU-Commission President Barosso, to finalize the initiative and present it “with a single European voice” at the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg in September.
She also called on the private sector to “step up to their responsibility” and take part in this urgent initiative. “To be effective,“ the German labor minister said, “any jobs program must be demand driven."
The goal is to mobilize the available sources of funding and link them with effective labour market policy measures. Governments cannot guarantee jobs, only the private sector can create jobs. But the states can conserve and improve young people’s employability. And they can provide European funding for small and medium enterprises to promote growth and employment.
Nicolas Berggruen closing the Town Hall
 “Unemployment Statistics” Eurostat : http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu
- Nathan Gardels
- Maria Vega
- Fernando Gualdoni
- Mario Monti
- Mario Monti
- Claudi Pérez
- Fabio Ghelli
- Tony Barber
- Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels
- Interview mit Nicolas Berggruen
The Financial Times
- Hugh Carnegy
New York Times
- Nicola Clarkview all