European Commission

Brussels Economic Forum

Special issue, 2 June 2017

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Registrations for the Brussels Economic Forum 2017 are open

About the Brussels Economic Forum 2017

#EUBEF2017

The 17th Brussels Economic Forum focused on some of the biggest issues of today: migration, inequality and the future of Europe.  But while the challenges remain substantial, this year’s event conveyed an air of optimism both on the podium and among delegates during the coffee breaks.

Following the introductory remarks by the European Commission’s Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, Marco Buti, Banque de France Governor François Villeroy  de Galhau gave the 6th Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa Lecture. In his speech,  Mr Villeroy de Galhau  referred to the European Union's rare chance to reform its economic architecture, by creating a common stabilisation fund and a euro area finance minister. Keynote speeches were given by the philanthropist founder of the Open Society Foundations, George Soros,  Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and by Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, followed by three panels exploring the Forum's topical issues in detail. A thought-provoking day.

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Keynote speeches and panel discussions

Banque de France’s Villeroy de Galhau: Europe must seize window of opportunity

The European Union has a rare chance to reform its economic architecture by creating a common stabilisation fund and a euro area finance minister, the Governor of the Bank of France, François Villeroy de Galhau told the 2017 Brussels Economic Forum. Delivering the annual Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa lecture, Mr Villeroy de Galhau said the recent election of pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron in France and the German elections in September provided, "a unique window of opportunity" to align euro area reform efforts. "Nothing should be taken for granted, but much is open."

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EU should be multi-track, not multi-speed, says investor and philanthropist Soros

George Soros is a committed but critical European. A close friend of the late Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, he framed his speech at this year’s Brussels Economic Forum around what he and his friend would be working on together today, were he still alive. “We would try to save the European Union in order to radically reinvent it,” he said. The first objective, saving Europe, has to take precedence because it is in existential danger, he said, but added that the second objective – reinventing Europe – is also crucially important.

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Tackling inequality an EU priority but national governments hold the key

Inequality is an inescapable risk in a fast-changing economy that has fuelled populism in recent years, but be wary of asking the European Union to fix it because it has less influence in the area than national governments, top policy makers and experts warned at the Brussels Economic Forum. European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, said that economic inclusion had leapt to the top of the policy agenda, pointing to surveys showing that eight out of 10 Europeans think the EU should prioritise unemployment, social inequality and migration.

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Now Europe is recovering, it’s time to build a better euro

The European Union must use the current recovery to press ahead with long overdue economic reforms, EU Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told the Brussels Economic Forum. Mr Moscovici was echoed by finance ministers and other panellists at the forum in saying that there was a unique opportunity to enjoy both the economic upturn and the political turnaround in Europe to complete the euro area reform process.

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Migration: challenges and opportunities for the EU economy and society

The Brussels Economic Forum’s panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of migration featured a one-on-one interview with Poland’s deputy Prime Minister. The panel's moderator Alex Barker, Brussels Bureau Chief for Financial Times, then opened up the discussion about migration to the panel featuring Kati Piri, MEP, Anna Triandafyllidou, professor at the European University Institute, and Elizabeth Collett, director of the Migration Policy Institute Europe.

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