Freedom & Solidarity Forum


En ouverture des cérémonies officielles, la Chambre de Commerce Américaine en France (AmCham France) et le Mémorial de Caen ainsi que la Chambre de Commerce américaine auprès de l’Union Européenne (AmCham EU) et la ville de Caen, organisent, sous le haut patronage de Monsieur François Hollande, Président de la République Française, le premier « Forum de la Liberté et de la Solidarité ».

Ce forum se tient les 4 et 5 juin 2014 Hommes politiques, chefs d’entreprises du Fortune 500, dirigeants d’organisations internationales, penseurs et jeunes talents du monde entier y participeront afin de poser les jalons d’un monde en paix. Ce Forum est aussi une rencontre entre les grands décideurs et des représentants de la jeunesse américaine et européenne, afin de réfléchir à l’héritage d’Overlord et du plan Marshall pour le renforcement des relations transatlantiques autour des nouveaux enjeux économiques et sociaux du XXIème siècle.


The Forum’s first event, held yesterday evening at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes, was a thought-provoking youth debate. It was great to see so many participants from both the European Youth Parliament and the USA Youth Debates sharing ideas and opinions with the Forum’s speakers. The theme of the debate was: « In order to make the world a safer place, containment of external threats to peace should be the highest priority of the Transatlantic Alliance. » Jean-David Levitte, former Ambassador and Senior Diplomatic Adviser, kicked off the evening with a view of how he saw the world change throughout his career. He spoke of how we now live in a polycentered world where there is a real threat of fragmentation, even within existing countries.

M. Levitte opened the discussions by encouraging the sons and daughters of the heroes of D-Day to share their vision of a better future for us all. The interactive debate crossed generations and national borders. Young debaters from Europe and the US put forward arguments both for and against  the use of containment to counter threats to peace. Questions raised by Forum speakers challeged the youth on religious and political radicalisation and on whether containment should be used to tackle climate change, one of the biggest threats to our generation.  After the final vote, the motion to use containment was opposed. Guests mingled following the debate as Russian chellist Anastasia Kobekina delighted the guests with a wonderful performance of Suite No. 2 Bach.

The Mayor of Caen, Joël Bruneau, accompanied by Clara Gaymard followed with a welcome speech focusing on the values of freedom and solidarity.

Caen will always remember those falllen in the war, who sacrificed their lives to ensure freedom for the world. Today, Caen remains devoted to supporting the transatlantic alliance.


Day two of the Forum was packed with discussions amongst business representatives, political and thought leaders, academic experts and representatives of the European and American youth. Here’s a run-through of the key points of discussion from today’s panels…


Panel 1: What is, 70 years after, the legacy of Overlord Operation in terms of Freedom and Solidarity?

The Panel focused on the Overlord Operation as a military epic which accompanied a political, economic and philosophical vision that ultimately contributed to the re-construction of the contemporary world. Kader Arif, French Secretary of State for War Veterans and for Memory, spoke of the political and economic interactions which stemmed from and preceded the War. The Marshall Plan, the American initiative to aid Europe after WWII, facilitated the transatlantic alliance. Antony Beevor, Visiting Professor of History at Birkbeck University, outlined the three turning points of the war from the point of view of a British historian. US-UK relations  and the subject of Operation Overlord featured greatly in his speech.

Gordon H. Nick Mueller, President and CEO of the National World War II Museum opened his discussion by stating that D-Day was a pivotal point in the war but the struggle against threats to our freedom is not over. He also spoke of the alliance between the US and the UK, and how this act of friendship moved the US out of isolation and advanced democracy in Europe. Renowned historian Jorg Echternkamp of the Martin Luther University Hallle Wittenberg outlined how the image that Germany had of the US changed over time. Hitler underestimated the US and Japanese armies, but as the Allies worked together, especially during the battle of Stalingrad, Germany realized that the situation would deteriorate.

According to Olivier Wieviorka, Historian and Professor of ENS Cachan, D-Day was a catalyst for hope as the news of the Landings raised the morale and instilled hope in the tired people fighting for our values. The panel shows that political decisions, politicians and historical events can indeed inspire enthusiasm. As Stephane Grimaldi stated, “history is also made of men”.


Panel 2: Freedom and Shared Growth

The panel was animated by Jean-Luc Allavena, Chairman of the French-American Foundation – France. The speakers debated how a significant percentage of the population still has no access to basic freedoms. Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way, focused on key messages for the future, including access to education for everyone. He believes we can only achieve this by working together. Young leaders Phoebe Young and Dennis Mwaura spoke next of the solutions to poverity and inequality. In the short term, economic growth should focus on equality developed through sectorial diversification. In the long term, the focus should be on individual empowerment and encouraging participation in the market at a local level. The link between these two strategies must remain entrenched. Marilyn Carlson Nelson, co-CEO of Carlson Holdings reminded us that freedom does not fall from the sky and that it must be earned by every generation. Freedom and solidarity are more than just military actions, they represent grander concepts.

Next, Karel de Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade, discussed freedom and shared growth across the atlantic as, « never has an economy developed without trade.” Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and CEO of Total, spoke of how we must create a better future by learning from the past. Addressing energy issues will be key for the future and it will be our young people who will pay if we don’t act now. For Georges Plassat, Chairman and CEO of Carrefour, one of the key messages to pass on is that freedom is essential to trade and free trade encourages all social classes and moves all populations. How we learn from the past was one of the themes of Philippe Wahl, Chairman and CEO of La Poste. He also discussed the three rules for a free market economy, including the need to regulate monopolies by encouraging competition.


Panel 3: Freedom, Security and Transparency

With new technological and political challenges, freedom, security and transparency have been key points of debate in the political arena. General Jean-Paul Palomeros, Supreme Allied Commander, NATO Transformation, spoke of how terrorism has evolved and the world today represents opportunities but also risks. The one thing we must remember is that fundamental values such as freedom must remain entrenched in our democracies.

Francois-Xavier Fringant and Camille Francois, the youth of this panel debate, represented a varied and multicultural group of young people. They spoke of how the collection of data raises risks such as weakened individual rights, but also opportunities such as innovation and counter terrorist measures. The key message is to harness collective intelligence and build upon freedom and solidarity goals. Marc Benioff’s, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce, experience lies in “riding the technological continuum” to increase ease of use for the customer and providing the service at low cost. Benioff reminded us that we need to achieve a high level of trust and transparency in data handling. Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, gave a very compelling speech of his personal experience of dealing with cyber attacks, including how sharing of data with intelligence agencies is an advantage when tackling attacks. Mark Francois, British Minister of State for the Armed Forces, highlighted that the freedom we have today was earned by the brave troops who fought in the war.

A lesson we should take from D-Day is that joint measures and interoperability are key to achieve freedom. Continuing on this theme, Francois Heisbourg, Advisor of the Fondation de la Recherche Stretgique, spoke of the democratic freedoms attained in 1944. He encouraged leaders to work together on current crises in Iran and Ukraine. Nicholas Burns, Professor of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School also spoke of current events such as our interactions with Russia. His powerful words on the lessons learned from the war were that the US cannot be isolated from the rest of the world. Jean-Paul Herteman, Chairman and CEO of Safran highlighted the progress and innovation within the technology sector. His view is that biometric data can help improve security and people should not be afraid of it.


Panel 4: Reinventing the Transatlantic Alliance

The renewal of the transatlantic relationship, more than 60 years after the Marshall Plan, is a very topical issue. The panel discussed how to strengthen economic cooperation between the US and Europe; especially to ensure sustainable economic growth.Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce chaired the fourth panel. He spoke of three pillars which could reinvent the transatlantic relationship, including economic growth; entrepreneurship and unity. Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas and two young entrepreneurs spoke of secure and stable economies. They see these as the building blocks to a strong democracy and to freedom. Economies of today are international, intertwined and interdependent. Alexis Jamet, Chairman of Bukr, explained that France, and especially young entrepreneurs, should not be scared to look towards Silicon Valley as it brings the potential of a new perspective.

Gregory Jean, Chairman of Aykow, emphasized the need for trust between Europe and the US to help develop innovation. Fleur Pellerin, French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Tourism, and French Nationals Abroad, sees entrepreneurship as a new social elevator. It brings hope to the younger generations. Jean Charest, Former Quebec Prime Minister, reminded us that the transatlantic relationship also includes Canada, who lost over 70 000 men in WWI. The themes of sustainable and inclusive growth were reiterated by John G Rice, Vice Chairman of GE. Rice spoke of financial capital and human capital, where innovation is key.

Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe remembered the sacrifice of those that fought in the war. He also worried about the current situation where extremism is a real danger, unemployment is high, and poverty rises. The US and Europe must unite to act on these real issues. David Binks, President EMEA of FedEx Express, spoke of the advantages and opportunities of the TTIP. He sees it as a once in a generation opportunity which we have to embrace by removing barriers, moving goods, services, data, people and capital. But also simplify all the red tape and bureaucracy to facilitate trade.


Panel 5: Rethinking the Economy of the Future

The debate on the scarcity of world resources led to discussions around new and innovative technologies as well as scientific advances. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, discussed the problems following the wars that seemed unconquerable. The problems we face today are similar in size and scope, and we need to assemble that same will and drive to conquer them. The two young panelists advocated for a new era of equitable prosperity. They called for more responsibility on the decision makers to ensure we keep the common good in mind. Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, supported three conditions necessary to build a new transatlantic economy. Working together is key to building trust and fairness. Philippe Aghion, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, supported the notion that Europe and the US learn from one another.

Elias Zerhouni, President for Global R&D at Sanofi, challenged the traditional idea of innovation and its positive effects but also its potential drawbacks. We must all focus our efforts on sustaining human curiosity. Bertrand Badré, Managing Director and CFO of the World Bank Group, explains how his organization helps resolve local problems through collaboration and solidarity. Jim Cowles, CEO EMEA of Citi, reflected on how banks are necessary supports for growth. Businesses have to be profitable in order to make the community they are in prosper, but being profitable now entails having ethics, and making the consumers proud to be associated with you. Bruno Roche, Chief Economist at Mars Inc. explained that the economic model that has brought prosperity to our world is no longer valid, and that we must build a new one based on inclusiveness.

Navi Radjou, Co-author of Jugaad Innovation and Fellow at the University of Cambridge discussed how frugal innovation is gaining in popularity. It means not only to do more with less, but to do better with less.