(Running notes from the second Future of Europe Summit in Andorra)
Panel on "How to encourage creativity, innovation and risk-taking in Europe", moderated by moderated by the BBC's Nik Gowing.
Philippe Li (right in the picture) president of the French-Korean Chamber of commerce, talks about Europe seen from Asia. He says: It's so outdated to still be discussing about store openings on Sundays, or having huge controversies about the export of culture and museums (the Louvre in Abu Dhabi etc). Europe lacks sometimes passion today. From the Asian perspective, I feel that Europeans are becoming so individualistic that are becoming incapable of collective goals, of visions for the entire nation or community. Europe is also losing the value of service. One thing I still can't understand is: you go to Paris or Brussels airport, and you have exactly the same line than in HK or Singapore, but it takes twice to check in in Europe. That goes with the general atmosphere in a country. However, it's true that Europe has achieved great things, unite 27 countries into a free market, virtually eliminated wars. In Europe we have the greatest dreams that have been accomplished.
Lucy Marcus (second from left) CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting, who structures and restructures VC funds. She says: I think we're losing them young, at primary and secondary school level. We're starting too late with our efforts. We can't address risk-taking and entrepreneurship only at business school level: we need to start at nursery school.
Jacques Attali (second from right) who's had (and has) many hats -- banker, entrepreneur, power whisperer, most recently chairman of an advisory committee on growth for French president Sarkozy, and author of 40+ books -- says: I'm not happy with the whole conversation today (Phelps's speech). I trust Europe. I don't believe that Europe is going to be dominated by Asia, that's bullshit, Asia has tons of domestic, infrastructure problems, India may not be staying as a nation for a long time; the US, the dollar is collapsing and we may be at the beginning of a huge 1929 crisis. Europe is not declining, has an enormous future. Of course we have problems, but don't discard Europe. We're number 1 in a lot of dimensions. Of course we have problems, but Europe is today envied by the rest of the world. Most important thing for Europeans is that we have to trust our future -- nobody else will trust it for us. I do agree with Philippe Li, individualism is the death of the future, but it's certainly more visible in the US and in China today than in Europe. Today, the danger of selfishness and individualism is everywhere. In Europe, what's lacking is a strong feeling of a threat. Discussing decline is interesting only if it's the beginning of feeling a threat and of a reaction, a call to action. To react, we need strong leadership, to serve as door opener for the future. We are just starting to feel the threat, but leadership is not yet here. Will it come at European or national level, it's still a question mark.
Ziga Turk (left) is the Minister for Growth of Slovenia. He engages in an rather flat academic lesson: Key question is: do you buy stuff that you need or that you think you need? Do you pay for the function of the stuff you buy, or for its meaning? The future belongs to meaning-makers: not to engineers, not to rational math-thinking person, but to creative meaning-makers (BG: this is from Dan Pink). This is why we are seeing a war for talent. Economies are not fighting for energy or for food: they're trying to provide an attractive environment for talent. We have to start young, with creativity, because creativity means that you dare to do things differently. (BG: Slovenia will have the next rotating presidency of the EU: as a European, this speech worries me).
Claude Smadja (from the audience): The financial system and mentality in Europe remains bank-centered, and this is a thing of the past. At this stage, there is progress in terms of the development of venture capitalism and financial markets, but as long as we have a political mentality that remains bank-centered in Europe, we have a tremendous problem. (BG: isn't the better-developed US financial market that hit the subprime wall?). The problem with Europe is that it has programs, it doesn't have projects. Programs are based on bureaucratic thinking. Asia has projects. Europe (the EU) was built on a defensive mood.