Europe – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Evening Plenary Session. 28th Economic Forum, day 1.

The panelists discussed visions of Europe over years. The impressive list of participants included Stanisław Karczewski, Speaker of the Polish Senate ,  Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (European Commission), Edgars Rinkēvičs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lativia, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Minister of Economy of Lithuania and Calin Popescu Tăriceanu, Speaker of the Romanian Senate. The meeting was moderated by Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, Chairman of the Partners Board of EY, former Polish PM.

At the beginning, the panelists explained how each of them understands the title of the session.

Poland and Eastern Europe of “yesterday” is the one behind the iron curtain. We found ourselves not on the right side of the wall, deprived of freedom and democracy. Talking about the future always takes place in the context of what was in the past and what is now. The EU is on a bend and it is a moment to think not only of successes, but also mistakes, from which we should draw the consequences – said the Mr. Karczewski.

The participants emphasized the fact that the process of uniting Europe did not start with the demolition of the Berlin Wall, but earlier – in Poland, thanks to Solidarity movement.

The subject of Brexit was also raised in the context of the European unity. All the panelists shared the impression that the UK made a mistake.

Brexit is not just a divorce with the European Union, it will affect the future of the entire continent. We should keep the UK as close as possible – stated the Latvian Foreign Minister.

In the following parts of the debate, the guests talked about the worrying trends in Europe and presented the scenarios of the future of Europe that they think should be avoided:

From my perspective, the negative aspects are “Europe of two speeds” and the ever-smaller concern for security in the broad sense of the word – commented Stanisław Karczewski.

Calin Popescu Taricenau claimed that the divisions in Europe still continue to exist. He also expressed his concern that they will worsen in the future. In contrast, Commissioner Tibor Navaracsics mentioned the positive sides of the EU:

The Union has helped to achieve economic prosperity. We can not also forget about the Erasmus program, which enabled young people to travel abroad and gave them the feeling of being a European citizen.

The last issue discussed by the panelists was the Union’s relations with the United States and the problem of customs.

The EU should be united in competing with the rest of the world and not focus on the interests of individual states – said the Lithuanian Minister of Economy.

The panelists agreed that the economic system in the United States is developing in a worrying direction: basing it on tariffs may in the future lead to imbalance and unpredictable consequences for both the US itself and its trading partners.