OECD-IMF Conference on Structural Reform in Europe › Speaking Notes for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund at the OECD/IMF conference on structural reform in Europe
As Prepared for Delivery
1. Thank you for joining us here. Thank you also to Angel Gurria and his colleagues at the OECD for hosting this conference, together with the IMF.
2. This may seem like a strange time to be holding a conference on structural reform. We are in the middle of a financial crisis, which will have significant economic implications for many countries, so it seems that we have more urgent problems to address.
3. But actually, it's a good time to talk about structural reform, because it has an important bearing on what Europe will be like when it emerges from the financial crisis, and because mobilizing public support for reform is vital to the success of the European model.
4. I have said before that the European model is based on the desire to found a world of justice built on the irreducibility of human dignity. The model requires:
5. The key question is whether structural reforms—the kind of reforms that Angel Gurria has talked about—are consistent with this model. I believe that they are mostly consistent with the European model, and with European values, moreover they can provide important support for them, for two reasons. First, because all of the values that we hold will become easier to achieve in an environment of economic growth. Angel has explained very clearly the ways in which structural reforms can help Europe to compete successfully in world markets and to produce high growth. Second, structural reforms can help to create new opportunities for European citizens, which again supports European values. People—especially young people—don't just want to be protected against failure; they also want the opportunity to be successful.
6. What does this mean for the kind of structural reforms that we should pursue?
7. We see the benefits of these reforms clearly. But we must also recognize that people are hesitant about structural reform. Policymakers cannot dictate to people on this; they need to persuade people. Let me talk about some things that policy makers can do to expand support for structural reforms, and also some circumstances that they can take advantage of to generate support for reforms.
8. Before concluding, let me say something about this conference. I spoke earlier about multilateralism as part of the European model. The IMF and the OECD are both institutions that embody this multilateral spirit—the spirit of learning from each other and working together, which is also the spirit of this conference. We have some important work ahead of us. We also have some very good people to help us do it. I am especially pleased to welcome some old friends who will be speaking today.
9. Finally, as we go forward, let us keep our eyes on the prize. The European model is the product of many years of passionate endeavor by the citizens of Europe. It is worth an equal expenditure of passion and effort to sustain it. The model is not static: European governments and institutions must learn from the world and adapt to changes in the world—as their citizens are already doing. But there is also much that Europe can give to the world if we hold fast to the principles of justice and human dignity, and if we approach our reforms with these values always in our minds.
10. Thank you very much.