EUROPEAN EXECUTIVE FORUM WARSAW, APRIL 9-10th 2015: LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES IN TIMES OF CREATING A NEW ORDER IN EUROPE AND IN THE WORLD
On 9th and 10th April, 2015 in Warsaw, the third edition of the European Executive Forum, a prestigious forum of leadership in politics and business was held. The main topic of this year’s congress organized by the Executive Club and President Aleksander Kwasniewski’s “Amicus Europae” Foundation was: ,,New order in Europe and in the world – consequences for business”. The Forum brought together a number of eminent personalities from the world of politics, science and economy.
Among the guests of the two-day conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Conference Centre Warsaw were – the former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia – Ivan Miklos, President of the EY Partners and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland – Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, prof. Dariusz Rosati – Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland in 1995-1997, prof. Michał Kleiber – President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and professors of the IESE Business School – Mike Rosenberg and Santiago de la Cierva, and Tomáš Sedlácek from Charles University in Prague. The panel discussion was also attended by the presidents of the most important and largest companies in Poland, as PKN Orlen, PZU SA, SAP Poland and Microsoft Poland.
In the opening speech, Aleksander Kwasniewski – former Polish president and co-host of the forum, drew attention to the particularly important aspects of reflection on modern leadership. As a starting point for the analysis of the role of leaders President Kwaśniewski set the concept of change, determining the image of the modern world. The current economic and political situation is determined not so much by the change, but the pace of these changes, which significantly affect the growth of the unpredictability of economic and political processes. ,,The moment in which we live is not easy. You can call it chaos, the process, which has lead us to the new architecture of the world. The coming years will be full of uncertainty, unpredictability, risks in decision making and stress associated with it”– as emphasized Kwasniewski. In his speech, the former president of Poland has identified four factors of changes, which were also set as the axis of the two-day discussion on leadership during the forum: the great technological revolution, demographic changes, the economy of the stigma of the recent crisis and the situation in world politics. The latter, according to President Kwaśniewski, puts contemporary political leaders in the face of new challenges. Contrary to what Francis Fukuyama proclaimed in ,,The End of History”, the story is not over at all. ,,Russian-Ukrainian crisis means the return of what seemed irrelevant, namely geopolitics. The theory, which says that you have to build your sphere of influence, that underlines the importance of territories and the use of the argument of force in politics”– said the co-host of the forum. Aleksander Kwasniewski concluded his speech by saying that the times in which we live are unpredictable times of chaos, Renaissance of geopolitics, the confrontation of ideas (the values of the Western world to the concept of authoritarian ruling) and the creation of a new architecture of the world is necessary but this time it can prove a difficult and extremely demanding task for new leaders.
Janusz Lewandowski – Chairman of the Economic Council of the Prime Minister referred in his speech to the thread of chaos raised by Aleksander Kwasniewski, seeing it as a rather optimistic thread if we manage to extract chaos of the new order. He added, however, that the new order will be more static, than dynamic. Mr. Lewandowski would see great potential in the construction of this new order on the side of the European Union, which could be a force for such a process. In a world of increasing national self-interest, to which attention was drawn during the naugural panel discussion: ,,New order in Europe and in the world, “prof. Dariusz Rosati pointed out that the European Union could play the role of one of the main actors in the management of change. According to Jacek Krawiec, CEO of PKN Orlen, the European Union should be particularly strong in the face of growing geopolitical tensions. The question of how to create a strong Europe in times of any kind of turbulence was the leitmotif of the following discussion.
Different approaches to the topic of the crisis and the idea of a united Europe were presented during the debate. Almost all speakers wanted to see in the European Union a force suitable for setting the tone for the European economy. Business representatives appealed to examples from their environment that the European economy is doing quite well. Wojciech Szpil, President of Totalizator Sportowy, drew attention to the European cultural capital: ,,Europe will become the place for the wise, it will become the intellectual base for the world”. So how does this crisis of Europeanness look like and what will be its results? A bold idea was adopted by Tomas Sedlácek, who in his speech presented that the European skepticism is the result of well-being. Using a smart metaphor for milking cows, he depicted Europeans as those who want to milk a cow, which has no more milk. European societies were presented as mired in end-stage and depressed because of fulfilment, which is characteristic lack of satisfaction with the overall performance.. There is no new goal, no purpose and that is the main reason for the current crisis”– said Sedlácek. What is the recipe for Europe of the future in Sedlácek’s mind? Enjoy what is, and be aware of the fact that for ourselves it is us who constitute the greatest threat.
Forum ending panel: ,,The primacy of leadership – politics or the economy” led by Aleksander Kwasniewski allowed to organize the key ideas that set the tone for the debate during the two-day event. In his last speech President Kwasniewski stressed the need to move away from dealing with economics and politics in terms of axiology of good and evil. In particularly difficult times in which we live – the times of unpredictability, uncertainty, risk and stress – Politics and economy should be equal forces participating in the construction of a new order in Europe and in the world. To this thesis in his argumentation responded prof. Dariusz Rosati, stressing that with both politics and economy one has to live with. ,,In a short time the politics has a tendency to dominate the economy, but in the long term, the economy dominates politics, as evidenced by examples of great empires falls. The basis of social life is the economy, and politics is the distribution and the management of the organization”– said Professor Rosati. Where lies the future of Europe according to Rosati? In innovation, education and research and in a growing economy, where the dynamics should be governed by strong leaders.
The next edition of the European Executive Forum will take place in March and April 2016 also in Warsaw. The Stretegic Partner of European Executive Forum 2015 was PKN ORLEN. Main Partners: Microsoft Polska, PZU, Synthos. Gold Partners of the event: Grupa Azoty, PayU, Pfizer. The event was also kindly supported by companies such as: Areva, Auchan, Budimex, Ciech, Elavon, EmiTel, Enea, MasterCard, Grupa Nowy Styl, PGE, Philips, PressGlass, PwC, SAP, Totalizator Sportowy, BMW Group Polska – automotive partner of the event. The Gala partners of the European Executive Forum 2015 were: Qumak, T-Mobile, Polish Vodka Association, Stowarzyszenie Siemacha, Bank Zachodni WBK – partner of the Executive Club.