2013 Bilderberg Conference
The 61st Bilderberg Conference took place on 6-9 June 2013 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Founded in 1954, the annual conference is designed to promote dialogue between Europe and North America in an informal forum setting. Discussions between participants are private and off-the-record and typically cover a variety of megatrends and major issues that face the world. The event is organised by the Bilderberg Group, which was founded in 1954 by political, industry, academic and other leaders from Europe and North America.
The Bilderberg Conference in 2013 was the first Bilderberg event to be held in the United Kingdom since the 1998 conference that was held in Turnberry, Scotland. The 2013 edition was held at The Grove, a large hotel in Watford next to the River Gade and the Grand Union Canal.
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The high-profile yet secretive event was organised by a steering committee. The committee is typically composed of two members of each country represented at the conference, including political, industry, academic and other leaders. The committee meets twice a year and their main task is to organise annual Bilderberg meeting.
The very first meeting in 1954 was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands. This original venue has lent its name to the group that convenes for three days each year to discuss major political topics and global issues. Prior to Hereford, recent hosts of Bilderberg Conference included Kanata close to the Canadian capital of Ottawa in 2006, Istanbul in 2007, Chantilly in the United States for 2008 and again in 2012, Vouliagmeni in Greece in 2009, the Spanish resort town of Sitges in 2010, and two-time Olympic host city St. Mortiz in Switzerland for the 2011 conference.
Bringing together a diverse range of political leaders as well as industry, finance, academia and media leader, the 2013 Bilderberg Conference was characterised as a political version of the World Economic Forum in Davis by the Daily Telegraph. The meeting attracted some 140 invitation-only participants from 21 European and North American countries. Approximately two-thirds of participants at the annual conference represent Europe and the remaining delegates are from North America. About a third of conference delegates are from the world of politics and government, with others being active in a number of different fields.
In 2013, the conference's chairman was AXA Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Henri de Castries of France. The Frenchman has held the position since 2012. Political leaders at the event included Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs Ali Babacan, President of the European Commission José Durão Barroso, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt and Minister of Finance Anders Borg, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Denmark's Minister of Finance Bjarne Corydon, Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide, former French Prime Minister François Fillon, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Lagarde Christine, former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Finland's Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen, and others. Other notable participants from non-political fields included corporate leaders from Amazon, BP, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs International, Google, Michelin Group, Novartis, Prudential, Rolls-Royce, Royal Dutch Shell, TD Bank Group, Zurich Insurance Group, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of The Economist and academics from Oxford, Stanford, Princeton and Harvard universities.
Topics for Discussion
Unlike other conferences, Bilderberg meetings do not have detailed agenda with keynote speakers and organised presentations one would typically expect. There are also no resolutions or votes, and no statements are issued at the event of the events. The 2013 Bilderberg Conference covered a number of political themes and topics, including regional political discussions related to United States foreign policy, Africa's challenges, developments in the Middle East, and politics of the European Union. Other discussions covered broader topics including the promise and impacts of online education, major trends in medical research, cyber warfare, nationalism and populism, big data, and jobs, entitlement and debt.
For more information about the Bilderberg Meetings, visit www.bilderbergmeetings.org.