2020 has been the most exceptional year in decades, taking the world by surprise but also offering a chance to rethink the world as we knew it. There is no going back to normal and that’s exciting.
The COVID-19 crisis has triggered the largest exercise of the social contract – perhaps ever – throughout the EU member states. Governments have made their best efforts to safeguard lives and livelihoods, massively overspending in social safety nets, while making the greatest use of taxpayers’ money, bailing out business and companies. By protecting employees, the private sector has also been both a conduit and an initiator of measures that are strengthening the social contract.
The good news is that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that there is an innate ability within the system to act fast and solve problems. Now that we are exiting crisis mode, it’s time to ask ourselves some questions. How can we withstand significant public debt and how do we realign European economies to close the various widening inequality gaps? What infrastructure is needed to transform economies? How can we profit from sustainability and share growth in an equitable manner? Most fundamentally, how shall we design our future societies?
We aim to figure this out.
If Europe wants to pursue a more cohesive, bolder Union to address the current economic, environmental, social and technological challenges, it is paramount that we craft a new social contract built on trust, transparency and inclusion between its key actors: governments, business and citizens.
This year, we will discuss what a sustained and resilient growth looks like, how to realign economies, how to leverage the twin transition towards becoming more competitive while profiting from sustainability and sharing the dividends in an equitable manner. We will also touch upon on space, arts and culture, geopolitics and diplomacy, and the inequalities of opportunities.