Thursday 16 June - 1730-1830

The topic of this panel was changed from a debate about the EU referendum in deference to the suspension of campaigning due to the sad news of the death of British MP Jo Cox.

Session Report

The panel discussed how electorates may feel they need to 'take back control' from globalization and considered whether further integration of the global economy is still the way forward. Polling shows that people have the growing perception that issues that affect their lives are increasingly beyond their control and that aspects of their traditional lives are increasingly being eroded.

This is compounded by an erosion of credibility in institutions and leaders – in many Western countries, a majority of the population does not believe in the benefits of free trade and globalization that politicians try to sell to them. This is in contrast the developing world, where a majority in many countries still support globalization because they see the first hand effects of rising wages and lower prices.

Despite this, the most pressing problems the world faces can only be solved by collective action. The panel explored possible ways to overcome this discontent, potentially by removing trade – one of the most keenly felt aspects of globalization – from the agenda while other issues like climate change were tackled. But others cautioned that social changes in demographics and gender roles are just as if not more important than economic changes in creating a sense of displacement.

As members of the audience joined the discussion, it was generally agreed that the solutions to many global problems are relatively well-known – the problem is lack of political will. This feeds into distrust, as politicians either misrepresent harsh truths to get elected, or are rejected by electorates when they propose difficult solutions with short-term pain.

A key theme of the session was empathy: understanding the perspectives of those who may fall out of the ‘elite’ conversation. Including those left out – struggling workers in the West, young people and sometimes voices from the developing world – was seen as a key to finding a path forward.


Key Quotes

'A lot of this is about control. One aspect of globalization is the perception that people have that issues that affect their lives are increasingly beyond their control.'
Bruce Stokes

'[Globalization] is running into an erosion of credibility of our institutions and our leaders.'
Heather Conley

'Everybody is asking for Europe to be completely transparent... but we have never had transparent national foreign ministers. I accept the demand of transparency but then put it at two levels - the national as well as the European.'
Sylvie Goulard