Speaker 2016

Hubert VédrineFormer French Minister of Foreign Affairs

World report, Europe

Diplomatic advisor to and spokesperson for President François Mitterrand, then Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Jacques Chirac, Hubert Védrine is an expert on geopolitical realities. In his memoirs, Jacques Chirac recalls his “complete command of the workings of diplomacy, a man who stands by his convictions while keeping an open mind that eschews all forms of dogmatism”. Hubert Védrine is the author of numerous works. In his most recent, Le Monde au défi, he analyses the current “irrealpolitik” and democratic disengagement, and points to geo-ecology, a universal ecological awareness, as a means of planning the future. He is chairman of Institut François Mitterrand.

Keynote Speech on Video

“Ecologicalisation, like industrialisation in the nineteenth century, could drive the global economy for the next twenty years.”

Report : World report, Europe

The European Union has become a self-sustaining system, cut off from its roots. A former French Foreign Minister, Hubert Védrine came to the 8th Forum de la Haute Horlogerie to explain why this could drive its citizens to insurrection. “The citizens of Europe feel they have been abandoned, duped. Globalisation has made the rich richer. The middle classes have been ignored.” Hubert Védrine’s message could not be clearer: in Europe as in the United States, for too long the elites have nurtured a system that is disconnected from reality. In his most recent book, Sauver l’Europe, he points to how…

The European Union has become a self-sustaining system, cut off from its roots. A former French Foreign Minister, Hubert Védrine came to the 8th Forum de la Haute Horlogerie to explain why this could drive its citizens to insurrection.

“The citizens of Europe feel they have been abandoned, duped. Globalisation has made the rich richer. The middle classes have been ignored.” Hubert Védrine’s message could not be clearer: in Europe as in the United States, for too long the elites have nurtured a system that is disconnected from reality. In his most recent book, Sauver l’Europe, he points to how the European Union has lost its course, politically and administratively. These were the abnormalities he described at the 8th Forum de la Haute Horlogerie, held November 9th at IMD in Lausanne.

This former spokesman for François Mitterrand and Minister for Foreign Affairs under Jacques Chirac began his presentation in no uncertain terms: “There is a genuine problem that people feel disengaged from Europe.” Add the anti-Europeans to the Eurosceptics, people who feel let down by Europe and others who are simply allergic to rules, and you reach 80% of the population. As for those who would like to replace the current union with a federal organisation in which member states retain certain prerogatives, the diplomat had this to say: “At barely 1%, in electoral terms the federalists don’t exist!”

On the verge of insurrection

Hubert Védrine lays the blame for this anti-European climate with the arrogance of the ruling elite: “After each hostile vote, the system continues as though nothing had happened! When the citizens of Europe speak of identity, security and sovereignty, these aren’t dirty words. They are legitimate concerns and must be taken into consideration.” If the EU is unable to give its institutions renewed legitimacy and set itself credible political objectives, Védrine predicts a fatal outcome: “We are on the verge of insurrection.”

He disagrees with those who, like European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, believe Europe must produce more results: “What would be the point of a complex contraption that works better?” He advocates surgical operations to redefine the role of the European Commission which, he believes, has gone completely off-track: “Saving water is a good thing. But once the Commission has made a decision, European experts spontaneously start throwing out regulations on shower heads. One only need read the Chocolate directive to realise how absurd the situation has become. It’s high time Europe stopped ruling on the shape and size of cucumbers! Even Jean-Claude Juncker agrees.”

“Ecologicalisation” on the rise

It takes structured forces to combat a self-sustaining system, and as Hubert Védrine noted in his speech, there is no international community capable of carrying such a project, with the possible exception of environmental questions which have elicited a more organised response from the alter-globalisation movement. “And even then, Europe Ecology – The Greens have completely missed their target!” Védrine forecasts that “ecologicalisation”, like industrialisation before it, has the potential to develop quickly and drive the economy for 20 or 30 years.

Such predictions naturally imply new policies. An opportunity for Europe to stand up to the emergence of “ecological rogue states”, which could soon include America. With this is mind, and so as not to be caught napping, Hubert Védrine urges Europe’s institutions “not to delay organisation of a summit on Donald Trump’s presidency, in order to have a closer understanding of who he is. Europeans must organise themselves and be ready to work with the new American administration on an equal footing.”

Video interview

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