Ladies and gentlemen,
allow me to warmly welcome all of you already at the 9th International Scientific Conference, which is, as the case traditionally, organized in cooperation with the European Commission Representation in Slovakia, Regional European Information Centre in Banská Bystrica and again this year with the support of the international scientific project LIPSE.
I am very pleased and it is an honor for me to be able to welcome among us to introduce our many honored guests: Mr. doc. Ing. Vladimir Hiadlovský, PhD. - Rector of UMB -, Mr. doc. Ing. Peter Krištofík, PhD. - Dean EF UMB – Mr. Dušan Chrenek - Head of the EC Representation in Slovakia, Mr. Petr Mooz - Head of the Information and Communication DG Budget, European Commission, Mrs. prof. Ing. Anetta Caplanova, PhD. - Member of the Council for Budget Responsibility and Mr. Dr. H. c., Prof. Ing. Milan Šikula, PhD, - representative of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
Let me also introduce and welcome the members of the Scientific Committee of the Conference, especially – Mrs. doc. Ing. Alena Longauerová, PhD. - Director of the Slovak Republic Assay Office, Mrs. prof. Ing. Eva Horvatova, PhD.- Head of Department of Banking and International Finance, University of Economics in Bratislava, Mr. doc. Ing. Peter Pisar, PhD. - Head of the Department of Finance and Accounting, Faculty of Economics, Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica and Director of the REIC in Banska Bystrica.
I warmly welcome on behalf of the organizers and Scientific committee of our conference all our colleagues, who have arrived from Prague, Krakow, Bratislava, Košice and other cities at home and abroad, all of you, colleagues, our students and all esteemed guests, who have come to support this feast of academic science.
I would like to begin with a few words. It seems that the last 7 years living in permanent crisis. The economic and financial crisis of 2008 was the starting point, followed by the Eurozone crisis associated with Greece and other countries. But there are other elements, such as the refugee crisis, which can in itself have substantial economic and fiscal implications, as do problems related to climate change. All this, along with other often unpredictable events of the modern world can weaken Europe and we can see from various surveys that Euroscepticism is growing and there is a real risk that the path to which Europe has been travelling these last 50 years or more will be stopped, or at least fundamentally modified. We live in a dynamically changing world. In response to a growing level of government debt in some countries we can see a change in the status and role of the state. But economics as well as the economy has changed and quantitative easing can now be seen as a key instrument of macroeconomic policy. Indeed in many respects this can be perceived as the most important development in macroeconomics over the past half-century. Despite these crises and changes, governments must always strive to ensure as healthy economic growth as possible, low unemployment and low inflation, not deflation.
The most visible sign of crisis in the EU over the past two years has been the crisis connected with Greece. At the moment that has been resolved with Greece staying in the Eurozone. But is it a permanent solution? Will Greece be able to both to return to growth, finance its public sector and pay of its debt or will the Greek crisis again come back to haunt the EU in future years. But Greece is only the most visible sign of the problems facing the EU. Growth has been low for several years and with governments unable to stimulate growth through expansionary fiscal policy the ECB has resorted to quantitative easing, putting enormous sums of money into the European economy. On the political side will the EU move to fiscal and political union? The Greek crisis showed the problems of having a monetary union without a fiscal union, or at least closer harmonization of fiscal policy, and the Greek crisis was solved by the Eurozone countries exerting fiscal controls over the Greek budget. If not fiscal union in the EU, will the countries of the Eurozone do this and if so what does this mean for the countries outside the Eurozone and the future of the EU?
Another theme of our discussions is sustainable growth. This is often taken to mean growth which uses resources in a way which does not unnecessarily deplete those resources nor add to the problems of climate change through excessive CO2 emissions. But there is another element to it. Growth in much of the developed world is being sustained by unconventional monetary policy, quantitative easing and exceptionally low interest rates. There are few economists who believe this is sustainable in the long run. So another aspect of sustainable growth is whether the EU, and other countries, can return to growth in a normal context, with no quantitative easing and ‘normal interest rates’ as we had through much of the second half of the twentieth century? Part of the problem of course is that the world has changed since then and not least worth the increasingly elderly population putting pressure on government resources and revenues.
There are many questions which arise from this. Will quantitative easing prove a viable tool of macroeconomic policy, or will its use be limited and simply lead to new problems in the future as quantitative easing is reversed? Indeed can it be reversed? How many resources must Europe devote to combatting climate change and what will be the negative impact of this on economic prosperity, or could investment in renewable energy in itself be a stimulus for economic growth. Is Europe and World on the verge of a new era of global conflict which will in itself demand greater resources to combat? All of these are important issues and the EU has the potential to play a critical role in helping solve these and helping to preserve the safety and prosperity of Europe. But this then raises another question, will the EU have to change in order to do this? One thing over which there is less uncertainty about is that innovation is critical to Europe’s future success, innovation to help solve climate change, innovation to secure economic prosperity and innovation to enhance security. Something else is also clear, regions such as Banska Bystrica must contribute to solving their own problems, with the help of the EU and national governments, but making their own contribution. And in doing so the regions help provide solution for all.
Our conference is taking place at an important time and we were very happy at the contribution ??our esteemed guests made to this debate. Of course, we did not solve all problems, but we have reason to believe and to believe that problems can be addressed and resolved.
Done in Banska Bystrica,
27Th of October, 2015 prof. Ing. Marta Orviska, PhD.