What is the future of Europe? What is Europe today, what will it be in 2020 and in 2030? All this are questions which were discussing today’s guests Mr. Zoran Thaler, Member of the European Parliament, and Mr. Žiga Turk, Secretary General of the Reflection Group on the future of Europe

The opening address was given by Mr. Bradley Freden, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia, who warned about the urgency of reforms in Slovenia.

Bradley Freden: »Membership of Slovenia in OECD is one step toward future. The future of Europe and its relations with US looks bright. United States are considering Europe as their partner in solving global issues. What is the future of Slovenia? Will the economic and social model, which was very successful for Slovenia in the last 20 years, be successful also in the next 20 years? Some structural problems in the next 20 years will be difficult and structural reforms are urgent for Slovene economy. Slovenia is already active in this direction with pension reform and reform of labor market which is unfortunately very inflexible. Typical for Slovenia or Slovene companies are frequent changes of members of boards of directors. Is this good for productivity of companies? Other problems are: unfinished privatization, fear of foreign investments, non-transparency. The government must solve these problems to ensure bright future for Slovenia. Mr. Freden always says: ”Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” AmCham acts in this direction because its committees are very productive, writing proposals for the government, supporting and speeding up cooperation between government and companies. “We will assist AmCham that it presents these problems to the right people, this is the role of our embassy.”

Member of European Parliament, Zoran Thaler ensured that is in these days fine to be Slovenian in Brussels, because Europe is welcoming decidedness of Slovenia for solving problems. He emphasized also strength and importance of entire Europe, that we don’t know how to utilize sometimes.

Zoran Thaler: For ordinary citizens European Union means free crossing of the borders, and the same applies for the companies. After time of crises situation in economy is improving. Currently low exchange rate of euro is bringing advantage to exporters, every medal thus have two sides. EU is important also as a Guarantor of peace on the continent, which should not be forgotten. Slovenia has confirmed referendum about arbitration – positive outcome is a small miracle, which was very welcome in Brussels. Bilateral solutions must be found first, also with the help of arbitration, because EU allows this mechanism, which countries must utilize.

The total picture of EU:

– GDP EU: 12,500 billions of Euros, USA approximately 2/3 of this amount

– Budget of EU: 141 billions of Euros, 1.3% of total GDP. Brussels therefore contrary to our ideas is not a large bureaucracy, but only small government that spends only smaller part of funds from the budget.

One of the important practical implications of the Lisbon Treaty will be European Experiment Action Service, diplomatic service of EU. This would be about 150 ambassadors of EU for whole world representing all European countries. EU could be strong factor at solving problems across the globe.

Middle East is also for United States to big mouthful to swallow. They are aslo limited in their activity and they need assistance from EU. Israel needs to be rescued from itself.

Žiga Turk, PhD, has emphasized that Europe has choice: reform or a decline. Will it become global player such as U.S. or it will be an insignificant factor?

Žiga Turk, PhD: Project Europe 2030. Challenges and opportunities. Feeling appeared among European citizens during crises that in the future their children will live worse as they live today. Europe had many important achievements before crises: Schengen area, Lisbon strategy. The economic crises changed course of events.

Changes on social, economic and political area are occurring across the globe today:

– Automatisation and superabundance (increasingly higher production for ever decreasing costs and less manpower)

– BRIC and globalization (EU and USA were having largest share in world GDP, rising share of BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China),

– Climate changes and energy (technological progress will solve both problems, Europe depends upon energy resources from outside Europe too much, especially from Russia),

– Demography (one of the largest problems of Europe and of Slovenia in particular, number of older people will be increasing, of younger decreasing),

– Education (it is not true anymore that Europe has the most of educated people and that high education is typical for Europe, especially Asia is making progress in this area now)

– R & D spent (for research the most spend Japan, Korea and United StatesChina is leading with scientific publications, Germany, Japan and France follow).

– e-communications

It is the end of:

– Industrial and Informational Ages and rise of creative economy

– Western dominance

– Energy resources from fossil fuels

– Growths of population and young society

– End of society based on paper and rise of digital society

Choices are following:

– To become global trend setter

– Reconstruction of post-industrial society

– To build the walls against migrants and to lift dams for increasing banks, as consequence of climatic changes

– To become family and migration friendly society (demography, smart immigration, how to attract talented people)

– To accept digital technologies

EU will be important global player if it stays strong on the inside (one voice and common policies) and if economic growth is ensured with adoption of structural reforms.

A renewal of European social and economic model:

– Complete common market

– Formed rules and regulations of market

– Leading common policy (energy policy, social security, common migration policy)

Guests were also answering questions:

Andrew Page, British Ambassador: What about democratic deficit? Europe needs leadership, because people need this. What do you think about Europe of two speeds?

Žiga Turk, PhD: There is a difference between political environment and economic market. Decisions in EU are not taken by citizens. Europe of two speeds is not probable.

Mitja Meršol: Don’t you think Europe’s GDP is mostly statistical category – sum of all GDP’s of member countries? Why doesn’t European Union have strong foreign policy?

Zoran Thaler: GDP isn’t the only important category because it isn’t ensuring necessarily high quality of life. Foreign policy of EU would have to be more unified. Sloveniahas here already visible role in SE Europe.

Žiga Turk, PhD: GDP for me is very important category, but we need to look beyond it.

Andrej Ivanc, Executive Director Riko d.o.o.: Problem between Greeceand Macedonia. Why didn’t European Union give conditions for its financial support?

Zoran Thaler: This question is logical and normal. In Brussels are discussions about this, but unfortunately there is not enough coordination to achieve any result.Greece is such member, that it doesn’t care enough, only minority of Greeks understands this logic. You can’t function well if your neighbors don’t function well.

Special thanks goes to our sponsor and host of breakfast Hotel Slon and to media partner Dnevnik d.d..