“We made it!” exulted Dominique Strauss-Kahn,
While “responsible globality” was the official theme, Strauss-Kahn’s remark captured the zeitgeist of this year’s gathering. Having thus far dodged the bullet of financial crisis that wounded
Echoes of Euro-triumphalism came not only from the French. Gerhard Cromme, CEO of the German manufacturer Krupp Hoesch Thyssen, said the euro-the new single currency replacing 11 currencies of the EU’s 15 member countries-would allow European companies such as his to catch up and overtake their American and Asian rivals. Former ABB CEO Percy Barnevik, now chairman of Investor AB of Sweden, contends that much remains to be done to create a better climate for entrepreneurs. But he allowed that the stage has been set for fundamental changes in mar-kets and labor flexibility.
Gerard Mestrallet, president and chief executive of Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, the largest power and water utility in
Considering the degree of difficulty and their starting point, Europeans could be forgiven for giving themselves a pat on the back. All the more surprising then that the one note of discord arose not from
It was a Davos moment. WEF etiquette calls for European leaders of such rank and position to be accorded due deference. These are the heirs of Jean Monnet, who transformed the
It might have been easy to dismiss or minimize the charges as a minority view, but there was a problem. The “Wake Up Europe” campaign was launched by European GLTs, an initiative of the WEF itself. Shortly after the 1997 Davos meeting, a small number began to meet regularly to forge a common agenda “to improve the future of
“We identified these young leaders,” said WEF founder and president Klaus Schwab,” both because they are outstanding in the field they are working in, but also because they take a broader view of the world.” The discussions led to the “
In addition to Wicker-Miurin, 40, the three marketeers of the “Wake Up Europe!” campaign are Hubert Joly, 39, president of
The manifesto calls for
Even employment statistics that most governments track faithfully do not reckon with a black market where people actually perform work for cash in countries such as
During the plenary exchange with Wicker-Miurin, Santer, and Prodi expressed sympathy with these goals but avoided committing themselves beyond that. The GLTs don’t expect much from this crowd. “It’s appalling that it has taken 10 years for politicians in Europe to agree that the high social cost of low skilled labor is an issue,” asserted Joly. “How many more years will it take for them to do something about it?” They hope to galvanize
Are there any rising leaders that inspire hope? Joly points to Nicole Notat, who heads the trade union CFDT, one of the largest in
To some extent Europe’s hand may be forced by the simple fact that the transparency of the euro now exposes large variances in hourly labor costs among the 11 EU members making up the single currency zone (see box). Huge discrepancies, for example, between
Can a Trade War Be Averted ?
Fears of a trade war over bananas underscore signs that protectionism is rearing its ugly head not just in the
Is the post-war consensus on creating an open international trading system over?
I don’t know if it’s eroding, but it’s definitely been challenged. Trade and the discussion of trade has been generally left to the elites. It’s an issue that has some, from Wall Street to
Why, on the verge of the 21st century, in the age of microchip and hyper biotech, are the
This has been a six-year battle. We look at it as defending the rules of the WTO. If we are going to be part of a rules-based organization, those rules have to be lived up to, even if one loses a case. We have lost cases and we’ve accepted the results. This is really at the heart of it. It’s become a fight on our side, not just for the bananas, because obviously there weren’t too many banana workers in our country. It’s distributors and the countries of the
What about this dispute about hormone-treated beef?
These issues-the beef issues, the biotech issues, modified organisms, genetically manufactured organisms-are major for us. We believe that decisions being taken in
Through the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue we’re trying to address these issues outside the politics, and more by a regulatory agency that can compare their methods, scientific processes, and talk about why our FDA approves these products, and why the regulatory agencies in Europe may not, and try to solve them that way, as opposed to thinking we’re going to solve them politically, because that’s not going to happen.
Is WTO effective considering it has no formal power to enforce its decisions?
It’s been pretty effective. We’ve won more than we lost. They’ve forced people to work out agreements and settle. The fear of condemnation by our colleagues around the world is enough to generally move people. My sense is that the members of the WTO take great pride in the fact that they’re part of a rules-based trading organization.
Is it the
position that the EU is not abiding by the WTO decisions? U.S.
That’s part of it. The problem right now is that they’re not; that’s why we’re going to test the process. We think this going to dispute settlement is a victory, because I think there’s no question the Europeans understood that they were not going to win.
At Davos, Vice President Gore called for a new round of trade liberalization. Many forum participants wonder if that really is realistic considering that there are many liberals in the Democratic party who demand more, not less, protection, including organized labor, which helped reelect Clinton and Gore.
The new round is important for two reasons. One, I think there are plenty of issues-agriculture, government procurement, telecommunications-still on the table that we haven’t gotten to yet from the