20 Jan 2016

WTI takes part in first Spirit of Bern

The Spirit of Bern – a new platform for dialogue – held its inaugural meeting in Bern on 18 January.

Among the experts and representatives present from the worlds of business, science and politics were two members of the WTI faculty: Managing Director Joseph Francois and senior researcher Mira Burri.

The new platform was created to debate economic and social issues with a view to developing common approaches for sustainable solutions. The focus of the first conference was on the internet and digitisation, the Paris climate conference and TTIP, the creation of the world’s biggest free trade zone.

Around 700 people attended the event in Bern’s Kursaal conference centre that featured lectures and discussions. 

During the first session – Internet and Digitisation: Opportunities and Risks - Mira Burri spoke on the topic of The Internet as a Governance Challenge.

One of the features of the internet was that it disregarded state borders, she said. With the current “government chaos” it often appears unclear who has control over the internet and who has the legitimacy to assume such control.

The internet should not be seen as “one thing”, she said, but as a complex multi-layered system. States should not seek to assert their own sovereignty as this could stifle the internet’s growth and evolution.

The second session addressed the results of the Paris climate conference, and the third was devoted to a discussion of TTIP. 

Joseph Francois gave a presentation on Implications for Countries Outside of TTIP.saying the implications for Switzerland and other countries outside the agreement would depend on what TTIP looks like, and that is not yet known. 

“If it’s designed to discriminate, that’s bad. If it simplifies rules and regulations and especially if it simplifies how you administer regulations that may make it easier for Switzerland to sell things in the US - even though Switzerland is outside TTIP,” he said.