On 29th April 2014, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) organized an international conference “European Elections Ahead: What is Next for the EU Economy?” under the Friedrich Naumann Foundation project “European Parliament Elections 2014: Lesser Government for better Europe.” The conference became part of the Free Market Roadshow 2014 of the Austrian Economics Center.
The conference gathered 100 participants, including members of parliament, high ranking government officials, representatives of foreign embassies, leading business companies, academia, research institutes, etc. The conference was held at Holiday Inn Hotel in Vilnius.
The conference comprised three panels, focusing on centralization of EU financial sector regulation, tax policies and tax competition, and the future of Europe after the European Parliament elections. The keynote speakers for these three panels were renowned Polish economist, former governor of the Central Bank of Poland and president of the Polish Civil Development Forum prof. Leszek Balcerowicz, Senior Fellow of the U.S. Cato Institute Daniel Mitchell and Prof. Enrico COLOMBATTO, Professor of Economics at the University of Turin and director of the International Centre for Economic Research in Italy. The panellists included prominent member of the Lithuanian Parliament and party leaders, high ranking government officials, well-known economists and people from academia.
See all the presentations from the conference in LFMI YouTube
Prof. Leszek Balcerowicz began by addressing the inherent dangers of excessively concentrated political power. He related the topic to the following question: ‘Do we want a more centralized financial regulation of the EU?’ Prof. Balcerowicz argued that serious problems in Europe were more likely to stem from poor financial and political policies in individual European governments, and not from the EU itself. Nevertheless, he emphasized a number of steps that were necessary to prevent future financial crises in Europe. His presentation was followed by a lively discussion addressing concerns about the risks of Lithuania joining the European Banking Union.
Mr. Daniel Mitchell of the Cato Institute addressed the topic of tax competition and spoke of the intrinsic nature of people and money to move where business conditions are most favourable. He highlighted the exodus of intellectuals and entrepreneurs from France to United Kingdom, a phenomenon which has become known as ‘brain drain.’ Mr. Mitchell stressed that Lithuania needs to reduce the burden on income generation, namely labour tax, and attract and incentivise investment. The subsequent discussion raised concerns about the changing demographics world-wide with falling birth-rate falls and noted differences in taxation policy between countries such as Germany, Denmark and Singapore.
Addressing the third and final topic of the conference on the future of Europe after the European Parliament elections?, prof. Enrico Colombatto began by examining the mediocre reception of the upcoming elections. Only 50 to 60 per cent of the European electorate is expected to participate, and about 30 per cent of those identify themselves as euro-sceptics. He argued that the success or failure of the EU had less to do with Brussels, and rather the quality of individual government’s policies. Politicians – on all levels – need to be held accountable and under pressure. The discussion raised concerns about the imminent elections in Ukraine and concluded with some candid observations of preferred leadership styles between the panellists.
The event was covered by diverse media outlets and news portals. The speakers and panellists gave a number of interviews to local media.