Common Good Summit: Who decides on the Common Good?

July 18, 2023 Political economics

This debate took place during the third edition of the Common Good Summit, organized jointly by TSE, Challenges and Les Echos-Le Parisien Evénements. On June 1 and 2, 2023, economists, economic decision-makers, representatives of public authorities and civil society came together to reflect on a central question: how can we save the common good? With over 1,300 participants and rich exchanges, this third edition confirms the importance of discussing tomorrow's issues together, from climate, mobility, food and inflation to health and artificial intelligence. 

What responsibility and mission for companies?

Today, achieving the common good is a goal shared by many. But in practice, how and by whom can this be achieved? Companies have part of the answer. 

"Companies don't decide the common good, they implement it". This is the nuance of Mélanie Tisserand-Berger, President of the Centre des jeunes dirigeants (CJD), wanted to underline during the conclusion session of the Common Good Summit. She believes that this common good should be "a space in which we live with the aim of reducing our impact, or even becoming companies that regenerate the living." 

Ambitions that need to be shared with as many people as possible, including shareholders. There was a time when they were much less greedy," notes Belgian economist Mathias Dewatripont. Things have really got out of hand, and we need to redress the balance. 

Asked whether the notions of profit and the common good are compatible, Eric Ducourneau, Chairman and CEO of Pierre Fabre, believes that "without value creation, there is no investment. And without investment, there is no progress, including social and environmental progress. 

Extracts from Challenges (in French)

Creating and sharing knowledge

"Democracy is very fragile if people don't have access to knowledge," says Jean Tirole, Honorary President of TSE and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, as he concludes this third edition of the Common Good Summit. 

"That's why I decided to go into this profession: to create and share knowledge," he adds. 

But what worries him today is the slowness of governments: "All countries have been procrastinating on environmental issues for 30 years. (...) What's left is civil society, while governments systematically pass the buck to local authorities. 

In his view, we need to "give price signals, and in this sense, the carbon tax is fundamental. When you see that it's limited to 5 euros per ton, it's clear that the State is failing. You can always continue to buy a cheaper, less green product". 

Along with his Belgian colleague, Mathias Dewatripont, Jean Tirole insists that it's not competition per se that's the problem, contrary to popular belief. But there are "a lot of market imperfections, and we need to set limits to the excesses of greed". 

Click here to discover our full series of articles on the third edition of the Common Good Summit.

Watch the full replays there.