24 May 2017, text: Hansjörg Ryser, photos: Thomas Lüthi
Helvetia can’t be indifferent to what’s happening in Europe. After all, around half of its life and non-life premiums come from foreign markets such as Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Spain. However, as Helvetia Insurance CEO Philipp Gmür explained in his welcome to the second “The Talk@The Studio” event, these markets differ enormously in terms of politics, economics and culture. All the more reason why he and the illustrious guests at this Helvetia and Ringier event were so interested in how things might pan out on the Continent after the French election.
But first of all it was up to presenter Christine Maier to clarify how she should address her interviewee. “In Vaduz everyone calls me Prince Michael,” was Prince Michael of Liechtenstein’s answer, as he also added: “No need to call me Serene Highness”. Because although he may be the grandson of the last Austrian Empress, Zita, Prince Michael also has a very active career and analyses current events in and around Europe with the think-tank GIS (Geopolitical Intelligence Services).
As charmingly as they may have been formulated, his profound analyses have been somewhat controversial. Prinz Michael sees Europe as being confronted with various different challenges, for example immigration primarily from Africa, which could still increase massively. Then there are the unsolved economic problems and debts, as well as the uncertainty about pensions. This leads, he claims, to fear for the future, especially amongst young people, which in turn makes people susceptible to simple, populist slogans. Unfortunately, he says, there is a lack of a fundamental positive attitude in many places. The historically problematic relations with Russia and Turkey also came under discussion.
In consolation, the Prince added that as long as economic relations remain intact there will be minimal military conflict. The battles will take place elsewhere, he claims, such as in the form of cyber attacks and information warfare. Still, he added, the elections in France have shown that radical forces are not in the majority and democracy still works. He says that Europe does need the EU, but needs to be much more federal and allow a lot more variety, just like Helvetia has. The Prince sees Switzerland as being a role model here: “Europe needs to become a big Switzerland.”
With Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, “TheTalk@TheStudio” hosts another illustrious guest. The series of events was created by Ringier and Helvetia Insurance. On invitation from hosts Marc Walder, CEO of Ringier, and Dr Philipp Gmür, CEO of Helvetia, around 70 guests of each attended a talk at the Ringier Pressehaus where presenter Christine Maier interviewed a high calibre guest from the field of politics and economics. Things were kicked off by Thomas Jordan, president of the Swiss National Bank.