June 6, 2013
Publicly, the group says it is still merely a debating society – a forum for leaders to “listen, reflect and gather insights” unbound by official policy positions.
But while they rankle at the conspiracy theorists, former leaders of the Bilderberg confences says they were the most important events they ever went to, and the freedom of speaking away from the ears of Whitehall officials meant the discussions that took place decisively shaped modern Europe.
It is above all a club for life’s winners. George Osborne, Ed Balls and Ken Clarke, the Cabinet Minister who also serves on the group’s steering committee, will arrive this afternoon, as will Mr Mandelson. They will be joined by Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission; Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF; Francois Fillon, the former French Prime Minister; Robert Rubin and Timothy Geithner, the former secretaries to the US Treasury; and serving prime ministers, foreign ministers and finance ministers from across north west Europe.
The chairmen and chief executives of some of the world’s biggest businesses will attend, with a combined wealth running into hundreds of millions of pounds – from Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Amazon, Google, Shell, HSBC, Lazard, Prudential and Alcoa. Henri de Castries, the chairman of the Bilderberg, is the head of AXA, the insurance giant. Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal, is also on the guest list. Goldman Sachs and BP have in recent years been donors to the British committee organising this week’s gathering.