A photo of me with Dr. Daniel Mitchell (Senior Fellow of Cato Institute), and Grover Norquist (President of American’s for Tax Reform) from today’s International Leaders Summit in the Parliament.
Usually when I need a political fix, a total immersion in liberty and free markets and low taxes and limited government, I go to Washington. You certainly don’t see too much of those concepts in Brussels. But this week we brought conservative values to the heart of darkness, in the European parliament. Along with my good friend and colleague Syed Kamall MEP (London), I co-hosted a Conference in Brussels which attracted heavyweight conservative minds from across the water. We had Bridgett Wagner and Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org); Tom Palmer and Dan Mitchell from Cato (www.cato.org); Grover Norquist (of Washington’s famous Wednesday meeting) from Americans for Tax Reform (www.atr.org).
The event was organised by Joel Anand Samy and Natasha Srdoc of the Zagreb-based Adriatic Institute (www.adriaticinstitute.org), who had worked their socks off to make it happen — as had my political advisor Emma McClarkin, who did the admin from the Brussels end. In addition, we had support from the European Enterprise Institute (www.european-enterprise.org) and the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels (www.britcham.be). We also had Ruth Lea and Sara Rainwater of Global Vision (www.global-vision.net).
We had excellent sessions over two days on tax reform, security, energy security and transatlantic relations. A star of the event was Dr. Maurice McTigue, now an academic at George Mason University, but formerly a government Minister in New Zealand. His account of how they restored fiscal responsibility, paid down debt, dramatically reduced the size of government and the level of regulation, was stunning — proof that conservative prescriptions work. Another key speaker was Mart Larr, former independence campaigner and Prime Minister of Estonia. It was he who introduced the hugely successful flat tax in Estonia, a concept which is now spreading like wildfire (twenty countries so far, and more to come).
We saw screenings of two films. “The Singing Revolution” (www.singingrevolution.com) followed the extraordinary and inspiring story of Estonia’s peaceful but successful revolt against Soviet occupation. “Freedom from Despair”, by a remarkable young American/Croatian director, Brenda Brkusic, tells a parallel tale of Croatia’s freedom struggle under Tito, seen through the eyes of her father (www.freedomfromdespair.com). Those of us in the West who believe in freedom can surely never forget the suffering of those in Eastern Europe who were so long denied their freedom, or their heroism as they risked everything for liberty.