TCS Daily

Europe's Free Market Nexus

By Ugnius Trumpa - October 13, 2005 12:00 AM

The first European Resource Bank Meeting (ERBM), held in Bulgaria last year, gathered about a hundred free-market thinkers and advocates from across the EU, neighboring countries, and around the world. This year's conference will be organized by the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) in Vilnius. One might wonder, why Lithuania?

Fifteen years ago Lithuania was the country that broke down the totalitarian bloc of the USSR and proclaimed to the whole world its aspiration to live by the principles of free society. More than that, it showed the world that commitment to the cause of freedom, coupled with strong will, can tear down any totalitarian wall.

Fifteen years ago a group of enterprising individuals established the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, an independent private non-profit organization dedicated to advocating a free market based on individual freedom and responsibility and limited government. The Institute has grown into a leading organization to consistently monitor, evaluate and articulate publicly its opinion on policies that will form the foundations of the social and economic life in Lithuania.

During this time the Institute has become not only an acknowledged critic of government but also a partner for those administrations, political parties, politicians and officials who sought to build the country's welfare not on socialist redistribution but on the free market. Today every visitor to Lithuania can feel an upsurge of freedom. This spirit and dynamism have helped to create new economic and social relationships, the results of which have enriched and embellished our lives. True, the legacy of the socialist past lingers on, but the spirit of freedom and free market is there for everyone to feel.

The recent accession into the European Union of the new member states has highlighted the need to spread free market ideas across the EU and beyond. The new members have become prominent reform leaders as well as remarkable examples of free market solutions: introducing currency board regimes to reduce inflationary interests of wasteful governments, low rate flat tax systems, wide-scale privatization, private social welfare, pension and education financing schemes. Although the newcomers are lagging behind the old member states in terms of economic welfare, their firm commitment to the cause of free market and their resolution to achieve well-being are an impressive example for many nations around the world.

This year's ERBM will focus on the future of the European social model, covering social security and welfare, education, and healthcare -- issues that are widely debated and considered problematic in every single EU country. The first half of the second day will be devoted to the free market advocacy and implementation issues, and the second half will be focus on the growing concern of economic security issues.

The European Resource Bank Meeting draws on the Heritage Foundation's similar Resource Bank Meeting event and the Atlas Foundation's Asian Resource Bank Meeting, forums that gather outstanding free-marketeers to discuss how free market principles can be applied in addressing economic and social concerns and conducting reforms.

We're looking forward to seeing many participants in Vilnius to discuss the ideas of freedom, to meet prominent people and to see the country that sent the USSR into the dustbin of history. Currently, guests have registered from countries all over the world, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Nigeria, Russia, the US, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. We are grateful to our sponsors Tech Central Station and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and co-organizers: Institute for Economic Studies Europe, Heritage Foundation, F.A. v. Hayek Institute, Center for New Europe, International Policy Network, Bruno Leoni Institute and Atlas Economic Research Foundation and all the others whose hard work will make this year's ERBM a truly great event.

The author is president of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI). For more information on the ERBM check its official online website at


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