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The Warsaw Voice » Business » September 29, 2014
Business & Economy
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Reinventing Europe
September 29, 2014   
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As the organizers of the European Forum for New Ideas (EFNI)—an ambitious international conference of business communities—we want to put the Polish coastal resort of Sopot on the map as a place where ideas that shape the future of Europe are born.

Why did we decide to organize the Forum? Because we see a clear connection between decisions made in Brussels and the state of the Polish economy. Since 2002, the Polish Confederation Lewiatan has maintained a permanent office in Brussels. We are the sole Polish member of BusinessEurope, the biggest and most powerful European business confederation. This puts us in a unique position to observe the politics of the European Union up close. We understand that once legislation goes public, changing it is a grueling process even if it proves unfavorable to the market. Instead, active participation in consultations is necessary, along with efforts to build coalitions. This is never easy, particularly where interests are at odds.

Yet before a directive or regulation is drafted, there are debates, consultations and ideological disputes. To impact the legislative process, it is crucial to have a presence at this stage. There are places where influential ideas are born. We want Sopot to be one of those places.

Four years ago, when we first set out to organize the EFNI, nobody believed it was possible. Today, with Poland confirmed as a serious player in Europe by the appointment of Donald Tusk as the next president of the European Council, our partners and attendees are more optimistic. Because of the EFNI, Sopot is developing a reputation as a place from where worthwhile ideas about the future of Europe originate.

This year in particular will demonstrate the growing role the EFNI plays in the European debate. The number of initiatives developed in cooperation with the EFNI’s international partners is larger than ever. There is the Weimar Triangle Business Meeting on stimulating Europe’s economy at a time of crisis. There is the BusinessEurope panel on the security of energy supplies in Europe, the panel of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, and a forum of current-affairs commentators and journalists from across Europe pondering ways of how EU institutions should communicate with citizens.

The EFNI will also see the unveiling of Competitive Europe – What Does It Mean?, a report drafted by a former European Commissioner for enterprise and industry, Günter Verheugen, together with the Polish Confederation Lewiatan and employers’ associations from Germany, Turkey and Switzerland.

This year, the EFNI offers dozens of debates, sessions and panel discussions. The central topic of the Forum has remained the same: the future of Europe and its economy. How do we make sure that our continent holds strong? How do we guarantee dignity and security to all Europeans?

We have invested more than half a year into preparing the debates. They will focus on a variety of interconnected issues: political, economic, digital, and energy security; contemporary threats to freedom and democracy; the redevelopment of the economic model on which the prosperity of Europe is founded; the risks of increasing social inequality; finally, culture as a key platform of shared European identity.

This year’s EFNI coincides with the beginning of a new term of the European Parliament and the European Commission. We are therefore working on a list of suggestions from the European business community to the new European decision makers. Both economic issues and the future of European integration will be addressed.

The views of the organizers, partners, and participants of the EFNI are voiced in the Sopot Declaration, which is presented every year on the last day of the Forum. The Declaration itself is brief. Therefore, to offer an in-depth perspective, it is accompanied by a set of Recommendations: a collection of all the suggestions offered during the debates. We will distribute these Recommendations to governments in all EU member states and to the governing bodies of the European Union. I am confident that they will garner due attention.

Zbigniew Gajewski
Director of EFNI, Deputy Director-General of Polish Confederation Lewiatan
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