Economic liberalism and tax reform front and center at Europe Liberty Forum 2019

Artboard 1

More than 200 champions of liberty from 44 countries met in Athens, Greece for Europe Liberty Forum, Atlas Network’s annual convention of think tank professionals and allies who meet to discuss the specific challenges facing European organizations and to engage each other on solutions that will promote free-market opportunities for all.

“Let’s make this a meeting to remember,” said Linda Whetstone, Atlas Network’s chair of the board of directors, as she opened the two-day conference with a warm welcome to a record-breaking number of attendees. Alexander Skouras, the president of co-host KEFiM, underscored her welcome and praised the benefits of Atlas Network’s training and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, pointing out both have contributed to KEFiM’s recent growth.

The crowd watches intently at the Think Tank Shark Tank.
Foreign Editor of The Economist, Robert Guest, speaks with his Home Base Group. Guest spoke during the Transatlantic Trade Exchange plenary session.

The conference kicked off with Home Base Groups, a new way for attendees to meet each other and start conversations that could lead to productive collaboration. Five Cornerstone Talks, ranging from a discussion of the need for a strategic reconsideration of the ways partners are communicating the ideas of liberty, to an examination of the concepts of conscious capitalism, were presented. During the two-day conference, attendees chose between concurrent sessions on changing the tax burden, successful free-market reforms that affect entrepreneurship, broadening the liberty movement, the future of property rights across Europe, and much more. “I’m more motivated now because I see so many things that people are doing, and it’s given me ideas about working with people in Armenia, too,” said Lusine Zakalashvili.

Three competitive awards were announced during the conference. Kyiv-based EasyBusiness won the 2019 Europe Liberty Award for their efforts to end the ban on the sale of agricultural land in Ukraine. The $6,500 prize is generously sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and is part of Atlas Network’s suite of Regional Liberty Awards. Three other finalists—Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Libertarian Club Libek, and Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation—were each awarded $1,500.

The 2019 Award for Student Outreach in Europe was presented to Association Multi for “Education for Students and Young Leaders,” a lecture series on contemporary topics such as cryptocurrencies, behavioral economics, and marijuana legalization. As a result of Multi’s work, classical liberal ideas have gained new traction in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A woman delivers her pitch as judges watch at the Think Tank Shark Tank.
Nataliya Melnyk delivers her winning pitch in the Think Tank Shark Tank—Europe competition.

The Think Tank Shark Tank competition, in which participants battle it out onstage for a $10,000 prize in seed funding, was won by Nataliya Melnyk, who is planning to develop ENVY: Economics at School, an educational course for middle school students that is based on the Economics in 31 Hours textbook developed by the Lithuanian Free Market Institute. Melnyk competed against Michael Iakovidis of Greek Liberties Monitor in Greece and Dmytro Lyvch of EasyBusiness in Ukraine.

A woman and two men watch intently on stage at the Think Tank Shark Tank.
From left to right: Nikolaos Monoyios, Kathryn Washburn, and Anastasios Spanidis.

The judges were Atlas Network board members Nikolaos Monoyios and Kathryn Washburn, along with Generation Y Group’s Anastasios Spanidis. Think Tank Shark Tank is generously sponsored by the Smith Family Foundation.

During the conference, Skouras announced that the 2020 Atlas Liberty Forum will be held in Kyiv, Ukraine with co-host Ukrainian Economic Freedom Foundation (UEFF). UEFF President Maryan Zablotskyy vowed to surpass the high standards set by KEFiM. “Planning for the 2020 event begins immediately, he said.”

Atlas Network CEO  poses with two men at an event.
From left to right: Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips, Maryan Zablotskyy, and Alexander Skouras.

Major sponsorship for Atlas Network's Regional Liberty Forums was generously provided by the John Templeton Foundation, Smith Family Foundation, Freda Utley Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, Nikolaos Monoyios and Valerie Brackett, and Rainbow@Atlas. Click here to view photos from the conference (more will be posted within one week of publication).