The British Embassy and the British Graduates Society (BGS) held a successful Economic Forum on Thursday 10 November 2011at the British Ambassador's Residence. Three distinguished speakers joined British Ambassador Dr David Landsman and BGS President Mr Vassilis (Basil) Zotos to debate growth as everyone agrees that the economics of Europe need to focus on growth, not least in order to emerge from an era of over-indebtedness. Our speakers and our guests discussed what the countries of Europe and the EU need to do to find “the pot of gold” of growth, what will attract investors and what is the potential.
Our speakers were:
Dr David Landsman, British Ambassador
Constantine Thanassoulas, Partner, Eilon Associates Ltd, Chief Executive, Premier European Capital Ltd, non-executive Director of Toledo Corporation Plc, UK
Andreas Koutras, Director, In Touch Capital Markets Ltd
Dimitris Haralabopoulos, Greek Bank Analyst, HSBC Securities S.A.
Opening the debate with a brief introduction, BGS President Vassilis (Basil) Zotos mentioned, among other things,
that... "Greece has tremendous potential for growth and all the targets imposed by the troika could be achieved, providing we all agree that we have to put our house in order and that we have to work as a unit and not as 11 million individuals.
The first easy action is to impose taxes and reduce salaries but this is a short-term solution. We have to go for growth in an organised manner otherwise we will be descending lower and lower in this current bottomless pit
We have to plant the seeds, work hard and with patience wait to reap the harvest of our combined efforts.
This historic building, the home of Eleftherios Venizelos hosted many world distinguished personalities. One of them was Winston Churchill who made the famous statement right after the announcement of the glorious Greek Victory against the militarily superior Italy: 'Hence you will not say that Greeks fight like heroes but that heroes fight like Greeks'.
We are currently involved in a different kind of war and I feel that we have to modify this statement to say that Greeks have to fight like heroes now to save their country.
There is great potential growth in all the public real estate property which has not been developed but which has a higher value (as percentage of the GDP) compared to any other euro zone country.
And what about the other serious investment opportunities: roads, harbours, marines, airports, tourist housing, energy and renewable sources of energy, mining, etc.
But the big questions concern what we need to do in order to find the treasure and what will attract investors so that we reap all the fruits of growth?"
In his speech, the British Ambassador David Landsman emphasised the important role the EU must play, alongside Member States, in creating conditions for growth.
"As Member States, including Britain and Greece, take steps to improve the business environment alongside efforts to reduce deficits, we must ensure that the EU works in the same direction. This includes re-examining regulation and ensuring that the EU only regulates when it is necessary and useful; especially ensuring that SMEs can function without excessive regulation; completing the Single Market, especially in services, by returning to the spirit which led to the creation of the Single Market in the late 1980s and 1990s; and strengthening trade between the EU and other countries and regions.
The challenge to Europe from the growing economies of Asia is real, and we have to focus on improving our competitiveness. But Europe still has many advantages, and by taking the right steps now we can ensure a strong future for Europe with the growth that we need."
Ambassador Landsman also highlighted proposals made recently in Brussels by British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, including regular reviews of the EU’s performance on growth, to identify what works and what needs to be changed, and the possibility of the EU appointing a Growth Ombudsman to champion the growth creators of Europe and tackle obstacles to business.