CONVOCO! Forum 2019
CONVOCO! FORUM 2019
On Saturday, July 27, the Convoco Forum 2019 on “The Standing of Europe in the New Imperial World Order” gathered together 280 guests from the worlds of economics, academia, politics, and culture at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg.
The conference opened with an introduction by Convoco founder and chair Dr. Corinne Michaela Flick. According to Dr. Flick, the central question for Europe is how to achieve unity through national diversity. Contending that the European Union is “in need of meaning,” she argued for new narratives to supplement the dominant idea of Europe as a peace project. In the international sphere, Dr. Flick advocated for Europe to reposition itself between East and West, while strengthening its own independence.
The introduction was followed by a lecture by Prof. Jörn Leonhard, who traced the historic evolution of the European idea. He asked us to think of European unity and crisis not as two opposed states, but as interrelated. There would be no unity without repeated crises, he said.
The many crises in Europe and the West were also addressed by Prof. Yael Tamir’s talk. Following Prof. Leonhard, she stressed the fact that crises always carry potential for change. To overcome the crises of our times, Prof. Tamir proposed to return to the nation state as a major tool for social and political change. The nation state may not be ideal, she argued, but it could be effectively employed in the service of modern, progressive causes.
Prof. Tamir’s lecture was followed by the first panel of the day to discuss “The Values and Identity of Europe.” The panel was preceded by an introductory talk by Prof. Claudia Wiesner on the values of the European Union. Prof. Peter M. Huber, Prof. Sven Simon, Prof. Clemens Fuest, and Prof. Kai A. Konrad then discussed the shared values of Europe and to what extent they create and shape European identities.
Prof. Gabriel Felbermayr, president of the Kiel Institute for World Economy, addressed the economic perspective of Convoco’s topic. His talk, “The Future of World Trade and How Europe Can Shape It,” argued that the recent increase in global protectionist policy and the trade dispute between China and the United States signal that power and security concerns are once again taking an increasingly influential role in global trade. He proposed that the EU should recognize its shared currency and single market as a useful geostrategic tool.
Before the break, Convoco and its guests were surprised by Prof. Wolfgang Schön who paid tribute to Dr. Corinne Flick on the occasion of Convoco’s 15th anniversary. Prof. Schön, Prof. Rudolf Mellinghoff, und Convoco council member Prof. Alexander Liegl then presented Dr. Flick with a silver tray signed by long-term Convoco participants and friends.
Dr. Fredrik Erixon, president of the ECIPE Brussels, started off the second part of the Forum with his lecture “The End of an Era, the Beginning of a New.” He argued that the previous economic order with its global institutions is eroding, whereas the use of discretionary economic authority by individual states has steadily increased. This, in turn, has rendered the future increasingly unpredictable. In this new economic environment, Europe’s value continues to lie in the single market. That market must be deepened, particularly in the digital sector, to further increase production and strengthen Europe’s economic standing.
Dr. Erixon’s lecture was followed by a panel discussing “European Competitiveness in the Digital Age.” Dr. Stefan Oschmann, Prof. Jörg Rocholl, Dr. Roberto Viola, and Prof. Timo Meynhardt along with panel host Prof. Monika Schnitzer debated the current state and future of the European digital economy. The conversation addressed cultural attitudes towards digitalization, the possibilities for scaling in the EU single market, and the need to prepare people for the requirements of the digital economy.
The Convoco Forum 2019 closed with the Convoco Art Conversation. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Gallery, talked to artist and Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama about art and the politics of openness. They conversation covered Prime Minister Rama’s personal development and his artistic and political activities. Following the theme of the conference, they also discussed Albania’s relationship with the EU and, more generally, the value of the EU for non-member states.