As one summit closes, another opens. Thursday sees the start of the influential Bilderberg policy conference, which this year is being held in Austria, just 16 miles south of the G7 summit, and in a similarly inaccessible luxury alpine resort. The participant list for the conference has just been released by the organisation, and some big names leap off the page.
No fewer than three serving European prime ministers will be attending, from Holland, Finland and Belgium. They will be discussing “European strategy” with the head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, and the president of Austria, Heinz Fisher. Two European finance ministers are on the list: one Dutch, the other George Osborne. The UK chancellor is a regular attendee of the Bilderberg summit, and this year he will be showing off his post-election glow. Unlike that other Bilderberg regular, Ed Balls, who is being invited back despite having by some considerable distance the weakest job title on the list: “former shadow chancellor of the exchequer.
Europe’s hottest financial potato, Greece, is on the conference agenda, and it’s good to know Benoît Coeuré, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank will be there to discuss it in strictest privacy with interested parties, such as the heads of Deutsche Bank, Lazard, Banco Santander and HSBC.
The scandal-hit HSBC and everyone’s favourite vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, are both extremely well represented at this year’s conference. HSBC in particular by their chairman, their busy chief legal officer, and board member Rona Fairhead, who is also on the board of PepsiCo, and the chairman of the BBC Trust. Good to know the BBC is in such safe hands.