The number of British MPs (only Tories) as well as MPs from all over the EU was impressive; and so was the opening speech delivered by Chancellor George Osborne. The following break-out sessions were all done with active MP participation. TIMA VP Martina Timmermann was invited as a speaker on the trade panel with co-panelists MP Nick de Bois and David Frost, CEO of the Scottish Whisky Association and former Europe Director, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK Government.
The evening reception at the FCO proved to be truly British with a most entertaining speech by Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Besides reform issues, the speech of EU Commissioner on Fishery, Ms Damanaki, was especially memorable because of its content but also the reaction of the audience. It was illuminated that low European self-esteem and perception of EU achievements, strengths and values seem to be in stark contrast with outside perception and appreciation. Within the EU, long but peaceful settlement processes on sustainable fishery quota in the Mediterranean Sea are criticized by Europeans themselves as “tediously slow and boring”. As this may be true, the very same process is being watched from outside the EU with great envy – most prominently, by the countries involved in the increasingly heated conflict on fishing grounds in the South and East China Sea.
The EU to them has been a role model of an institution that has managed to peacefully mediate highly controversial issues.