1st European Conference held at Harvard
The first European Conference at Harvard took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 2 – 3 March 2013. The event was organized jointly by the European Clubs at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, with support from students of other major universities in the Boston area. In more than a dozen panels and keynote addresses, around sixty speakers and 600 participants discussed various political and business ideas that may help to move Europe out of and beyond the crisis.
Among the speakers were various senior figures of European politics, including Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade, Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Liberal and Democratic Alliance in the European Parliament, and Elsa Fornero, Italian Minister of Labor. The private sector was represented by numerous management executives of major multinational companies, such as General Electrics Europe, Sanofi, and Deutsche Bank. A renown group of transatlantic academics, diplomats, and NGO representatives rounded off the picture.
The format of the conference, which was held at both the Kennedy School and Business School, left room for informal talks among speakers and participants. The latter were predominantly graduate students from leading European and US East Coast Universities.
Recurring topics discussed throughout the weekend included the recently announced talks on a Free Trade Agreement between the United States and the European Union, Green Technologies as a field of competitive advantage for Europe, the electoral outcome in Italy, and the future design of a EU Banking Union. A key point that was repeatedly raised by both politicians as well as academics and business representatives was the need for EU politicians to go beyond mere technical fixes to the current structural problems and to win publics for a shared long-term vision of future European integration.
While the conference would have benefited from a stronger involvement of legitimate eurosceptic voices, it can be regarded as a highly promising launch-edition for the years to come. In terms of participation costs, a $25 admission fee (including lunch and coffee breaks) and another $25 optional reception ticket, are also a plus.
IFAIR was represented at the Conference by Lukas Keller, Regional Director Latin America and the Caribbean.