The Tipping Point Talks 2019
200 years of ERSTE Foundation

In 2019, Erste Bank and ERSTE Foundation celebrated 200 years of the savings bank idea, which, in times of industrialisation and urbanisation, had not only been civic-minded and economically viable but also innovative and audacious. Four quarterly events with lecture, workshops and seminars were approaching the guiding question: Are there still lessons to be learned from the savings bank concept in 2019?



The ERSTE Foundation Tipping Point Talks 2019 – Identity | Normativity and Possibility | Audacity publications are two retrospective views on all four topics with contributions by Francis Fukuyama (Identity), Timothy Snyder (Normativity), Marietje Schaake (Possibility) and Felwine Sarr (Audacity).


Identity – Normativity – Possibility – Audacity

Thirty years ago, the Iron Curtain came down and opened up a tremendous range of opportunities for individuals, societies, and businesses in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Read more.

Why are values and standards essential? How can we live up to “never again” in an era this fragile? Read more.

How can we harness the possibilities of digitalisation to bolster our democratic life and our public and civic space? What could be Central and Eastern European contributions to an EU internet governance? Read more.

How can we realise a holistic concept of prosperity for all today? What will be private and what will be public goods, services, institutions but also responsibilities? Who will forge new alliances of responsibility? Audacity of initiative is what we now need. Read more.

These four topics have served as guiding lights throughout the year 2019 on the following questions: who are we in the Central, Eastern and Southeastern European region 30 years into an era of profound transformation which has shaped the lives and future of literally every family? What do we strive for as societies? And what are the challenges of our time calling us to do?

Curator of The Tipping Point Talks 2019

Verena Ringler

Verena Ringler founded and directs European Commons, a network that initiates and realizes transformative formats of dialogue and exchange in European diplomacy, politics, business and the non-profit sector. She developed her user-centered and multi-disciplinary approach to leadership in European integration in longer stints in magazine journalism, diplomacy, as well as philanthropy. She worked as editor with Foreign Policy magazine from 2002 to 2006 (Washington D.C.). From 2006 to 2009, she built the communications side of a transatlantic diplomatic team in Pristina, Kosovo. For more than five years until 2018, she shaped the large Europe program of Germany’s Mercator Foundation.

Verena got her MA from the Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS in 2002. She also studied in Uppsala, Vienna, and her hometown, Innsbruck. She authored more than 300 pieces in magazines and multi-media formats. Her latest piece on leadership in governance appeared in late 2018 in the book “Realistic Hope” (AUP). Verena is a member of the Strategy Council of the European Policy Centre (EPC).

“To shape our European future, we do not lack more small-minded ideas but big and bold alliances of action.”

Translation into English by Laura Scheifinger and Michaela Chiaki Ripplinger.
Cover picture: Grand Hall at Erste Campus. Photo: © Marcel Billaudet


Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.