ECFR Annual Meeting in Rome

This year’s ECFR Annual Meeting in Rome attracted a large group of politicians, policymakers and journalists from across Europe – including the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and the Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini who gave the keynote address at the meeting.

A wide range of topics were covered including Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, China and of course the future of Europe. The Swedish Foreign Minister participated in a panel on Europe’s Crisis. Regarding the illegal annexation of Crimea and the situation in Eastern Ukraine Bildt made very clear that we can not accept smash and grab behaviour.

During dinner Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group and author of several books gave a thought-provoking speech about the rise of geoeconomics. “Geoeconomics now sits alongside geopolitics in matters of war, peace, and prosperity and economic statecraft is a key component of global foreign policy”.

At the end of our meeting there was a heated debate on the “Spitzenkandidaten” where both sides argued their case. This issue is turning into a political nightmare with great implications no matter how it all ends. When we get to the point when it is time to make a decision one can only hope that we have reached a stage where we do not only reach a particular outcome, but the preferred outcome. Such an outcome would serve the interests of all Member States. So far there has been too much focus on personalities and too little focus on process.

Leaving Rome I couldn’t help thinking that the world is currently in a bit of a mess. Thinking in time is more important than ever.

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