The Covid-19 pandemic has underlined Europe’s external dependencies and existing vulnerabilities. Similarly, lockdown measures across the continent have led to disruptions in supply chains, impacting the manufacturing of critical goods and products in various sectors. It is in this context, coupled with the current European Commission’s goal of becoming a geopolitical actor, that the concept of open strategic autonomy has come to the surface in the European policy discourse.
Is Europe really able to act autonomously in strategic areas such as technology and data, and if so how far can it go in its pursuit of strategic autonomy while maintaining close partnerships with key partners? Can it combine its strong record on regulation and privacy with a stronger record of innovation and market deployment? And should Europe use its own trade, financial and legal powers to protect and even retaliate against extraterritorial sanctions by the US and other global powers?
The three main speakers were:
*Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus, Jacques Delors Institute; Director-General of the World Trade Organization (2005-13); European Commissioner for Trade (1999-2004)
*Stormy-Annika Mildner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute in Germany. Dr. Mildner is an expert on transatlantic relations and trade-related matters. She was previously Head of External Economic Policy at the Federation of German Industries.
*Martin Jetter, Chairman of IBM EMEA and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Deutsche Börse Group, which operates the Frankfurt Stock Exchange
The discussion was chaired by Matthew Kirk, International Affairs Adviser, Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP, and former Group Director of External Affairs, Vodafone (2006-2017).
Participants included: Bernd Lange (German MEP; Chair of the European parliament’s committee on international trade); Joachim Lang (Director-General, Federation of German Industries); Maurice Lévy (Chairman of the supervisory board, Publicis Groupe); Philippe Delleur (Senior Vice President Public Affairs, Alstom); Joakim Reiter (Vodafone Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer); Philip Stephens (Director of the Editorial Board and Chief Political Commentator, Financial Times); Lord Evans of Weardale (Chairman, Committee on Standards in Public Life (UK); Director General, MI5 – 2007-13); Armand Laferrère (Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Orano)