Start of the EFA-Labs in Alpbach

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24 Aug, 2023

The European Forum Alpbach (EFA) opens its Lab Days – renowned experts discuss topics ranging from data sovereignty to our youth’s understanding of democracy.

“If Europe does not manage to become an economic power again, it will collapse!”

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“In order to strengthen its economy, Europe must finally implement many of its announcements: Tons of national rules have so far prevented a real, common market. Instead, we need a Data Union, an Energy Union, a Transport Union and the completed Banking Union. Europe must become an economic power again”, warns Andreas Treichl, President of the European Forum Alpbach (EFA). “We will never achieve the military power of the United States. We will also never be completely independent of others in energy matters, even if we decarbonise all of Europe.”

But Europe is no longer an economic power. In 2008, the economic output of the U.S. was only ten percent greater than that of the EU-27; by 2022, it was already 50 percent. China’s economy has also overtaken Europe in the meantime. “This is not only a prosperity problem for Europe, but also means an incredible loss of power in a world dominated by China and the U.S.”, explains Andreas Treichl.

Questions about the new world order and Europe’s sovereignty are central themes at this year’s European Forum Alpbach. Data sovereignty, for example, must be redefined as a European task for society as a whole. Here, dependencies on global IT platforms and monopoly platforms that collect and process enormous amounts of data prevail. What values, principles and laws are needed to build a European, globally competitive data economy? These are questions that the youth, the “next generation”, in particular, will have to solve. But who is this “next generation”? What is their future? And what does democracy mean to them?

“We must become a true educational, scientific and economic power again in order to play a shaping role in this world. Achieving that will require policies that are much bolder than before”, Treichl concludes.

During the EFA Lab Days, curated participants address specific issues and work together on concrete solutions. In addition, Hikes, Chats and Stages for the international visitors to exchange ideas take place as usual.