The conference explored the principal design features of new growth models, identified the main obstacles to realising and expanding the potential for real income gains, and drew implications for policy-making at both national and EU levels.
The conference ran four sessions: "Rethinking Europe's growth perspective", "Fostering inclusive growth in the EU", "Climbing up again the industrial and technological ladder", and "Growth and convergence across Europe: Getting together or drifting apart?".
Olli Rehn, Commission Vice President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro gave a keynote address, sketching the context for the discussion. Mr Rehn described both the crisis management efforts and the on-going work on the long-term European growth strategy. The Vice-President also emphasised the importance of fiscal consolidation and the urgency to design and implement smart growth policies across the Union.
>> Europe's quest for growth: which way forward ARC 2011 SPEECH/ 11/772
The overall theme of this year's conference was the European economic revival coming out of the crisis. The presentations and discussions touched upon the building and sharing of prosperity within society and between generations. The participants debated the role of innovation and technology, including "green" solutions, in helping the EU gets firmly onto the centre stage as a leading economic block. They also deliberated on the questions of growth and convergence within the Union taken from both a historical and prospective angle. Credit was given to past achievements of the European integration as a major contributing factor for decades of solid economic growth in an expanding set-up including new, usually less prosperous members. Enlarging the Union and expanding of its prosperity zone of continuously rising standards of living, as well as convergence between “new” and “old” members, was highlighted as one the most important European successes in the past decades.
Substantial discussion took place on the current sovereign-debt crisis. Main causes and origins of problems were analysed and the European response to the crisis was critically evaluated. Several prescriptions for a blueprint outlining an effective response were proposed.
The concluding policy panel discussed the questions of the euro and the variety of European growth models pursued by the individual EU member states. The panellists highlighted the European predicament of having to carry out a fire-fighting operation of responding to sovereign debt crisis and, at the same time, producing a long-term coherent growth strategy in a fast-changing external and internal environment. Heterogeneity of the countries making up the Union and their diverging economic policy needs were debated in this context.
The consensus emerging from the policy panel was that certain imbalances within the EU are linked to member states' pursuing sometimes different, only loosely coordinated economic policies, and are at the same time bound by monetary union, which takes away important adjustment tools. These imbalances could only be overcome if the "more Europe" route, short for increased fiscal and economic policy coordination among the member states, is chosen as a way out of the current conundrum. The European answer to the crisis and stalled growth should be based on the three principles, which have orientated overall EU policy from the very start of integration: growth, stability and equity. Growth should be generated by completion of the single market, where unexplored potential remains in many sectors; stability should be ensured through sustainable public finances and well-functioning financial markets, thus restoring of confidence in the euro, and equity meaning the revival and strengthening of the European social model, where the benefits of growth are fairly shared.
Copyright of all presentations rest with the authors.