On 22 May, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) hosted a roundtable discussion titled “Europe in the Global Competition – An Innovative Old Continent?”. The discussion was part of the joint event series called “Stronger Together – Mapping a New Path for the European Union” which is held by IFAT and the State Secretariat for European Union Policies and Coordination of the Prime Minister’s Office.
The disputants were Pál István Székely, associate professor and principal adviser to the European Commission Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pál Szilágyi, assistant professor and director of the Competition Law Center at the Faculty of Law and Politics of the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, and Sebestyén Tamás, founder and managing director of the company Rocket Shepherd. The event was moderated by Péter Goreczky, leading analyst at IFAT.
Various perspectives on the economic situation of Europe and its potential for development were presented during the discussion, during which the role of startups as well as related aspects of macroeconomics and competition law were highlighted. According to the discussants, Europeans are currently facing an era of rapidly changing market situations, combined with a shift from a physical to a digital sphere. The participants agreed on stating that the EU will be able to achieve a higher level of innovation if it recognizes the changing global ecosystem and answers to it appropriately: a new type of value creation is needed which should be based on minimizing the damage to consumers and society. The state’s role as a leading actor in the economy will decrease in the process.
In the second part of the discussion, the participants elaborated on the issue of whether the EU would be able to catch up in terms of innovation with the competing global powers such as the United States or China. According to the experts, this can be attained only in the long run and by changing the general mentality towards business culture. In order to achieve it, the Europeans must overcome their language barriers as well as the fear of missing out, which will lead to a gain in competitiveness.
Finally, questions from the audience were answered. Here, the panelists highlighted the biggest deterrent factor of innovation in Europe (as well as in Hungary), which is the inability to overcome the coexisting parallel world of past and future markets. In order to move forward, a combination of both worlds or ecosystems is needed.