BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2015-38
BusinessEurope Council of Presidents meets in Luxembourg
On invitation of FEDIL, the Business Federation of Luxembourg, Presidents of the 40 member federations of BusinessEurope met on 19 and 20 November in Luxembourg. They were received by HRH Grand Duke Henri. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, was guest of honour. Participants first paid tribute to the victims of attacks in Paris. The Council of Presidents adopted a mandate for negotiations of a non-legally binding agreement on active ageing. The Presidents of BusinessEurope’s member federations then discussed the recommendations of the “5 Presidents’ report” on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union and the implications of the targeted revision of the posting of workers directive envisaged in the European Commission work programme for 2016. International issues were also discussed, including the new EU trade and investment strategy, TTIP negotiations, the interpretation of China’s protocol of accession to the WTO and the impact on EU anti-dumping procedures, as well as the forthcoming COP21 international climate change conference in Paris.
Director General Markus J. Beyrer: “We need more Europe!”
“The only way to overcome the current challenges is not less Europe but more Europe”, BusinessEurope Director General Markus J. Beyrer said at an event on Europe’s role in the world organised by the Federation of Austrian Industries Vorarlberg on 23 November in Lustenau, Austria. He stressed that more European integration and cooperation between EU member states is needed to find solutions for the refugee crisis, terrorism and economic challenges. In the presence of more than 100 representatives from industry, politics and civil society, Beyrer pleaded for faster progress on ongoing free-trade negotiations, the removal of remaining barriers in the single market and reducing energy prices for European households and industrial consumers.
Contact: Dominik Futschik
Photo copyright: Dietmar Mathis
Luxembourg Presidency must continue driving competitiveness agenda forward
Mainstreaming competitiveness across all EU policy areas will deliver real results only through concrete actions. Remaining obstacles in the EU single market must be removed and the EU must guarantee that existing rules work in practice. Better regulation tools must support competitiveness and growth, ensuring that EU legislation is fit for purpose and can be implemented at national level without unnecessary burdens on businesses. These are the key messages of the letter that Markus J. Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope, sent to Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg ahead of the Competitiveness Council meeting on 30 November 2015. The Luxembourg Presidency must continue building on the positive momentum they created in favour of European competitiveness and keep on driving the competitiveness agenda forward.
“Trade for All”: an assessment
The new European Commission communication on trade and investment sets an ambitious and forward-looking agenda. Business needs to remain at the forefront of an efficient trade policy aimed at improving conditions for European companies in third-country markets. The emphasis on concluding important bilateral negotiations and the consideration of new options to progress at multilateral level are most welcome. Introducing an SME-dedicated chapter in all EU free-trade agreements is key to support SME internationalisation by creating more awareness of opportunities deriving from trade agreements. Recognising the importance of services and their close link with manufacturing makes the EU trade policy more in line with today’s business reality. Companies can promote European standards in the world through investment. However the new proposal for an investment court system may curtail the ability for EU companies to protect their legitimate rights abroad.
Restoring manufacturing competitiveness in Europe
“Europe urgently needs to strengthen its industrial base to reverse the trend of de-industrialisation and investment leakage”, BusinessEurope Director for Industrial Affairs Alexandre Affre said at the Manufuture 2015 conference in Luxembourg on 23 November. First-class manufacturing benefits the European economy overall, he stressed, as industry generates strong positive spill-overs to other parts of the value chain. Each additional job in the industry creates up to two jobs in other sectors. To reinforce competitiveness of the EU industry, Europe needs to address the currently high energy prices, create an innovation-friendly environment, conclude TTIP and define an own European approach to digitalisation.
Contact: Dominik Futschik
The EU should strengthen its ties with Asia
Asia is a key region for European companies, BusinessEurope Adviser Eleonora Catella said at the event “The EU trade strategy: strengthening ties with Asia?” organised jointly by the European Policy Centre and the Korea Business Association on 20 November. Asia is dynamic and growing, and the EU strategy must use different instruments tailored to each of its diversified realities. Among priorities are the investment agreement with China and the bilateral deals with Japan and ASEAN countries. The EU-Korea free-trade agreement was a groundbreaking deal, the first one to include chapters on public procurement and sustainable development. Its implementation has shown the need for “living agreements” – agreements which include mechanisms allowing parties to address problems, unexpected at the time of negotiations, as they arise. An investment chapter should now be added to the deal.
Contact: Eleonora Catella
EU-China industrial policy dialogue
The industrial policy dialogue between European Commission DG GROW and China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is an annual dialogue in which European Union and Chinese policy-makers explain and discuss their respective industrial policies. Participating in the 2015 edition on 19 November on behalf of BusinessEurope, Maurice Fermont raised four main issues of concern with MIIT: China should do more to include foreign companies on China’s ambitious path to become a more innovative economy; China should urgently address overcapacity in various industry sectors; the Chinese government should improve and extend its consultation with European business on draft laws; and provide full national treatment for foreign produced goods in China. The meeting was a good opportunity for a constructive exchange between BusinessEurope, DG GROW and MIIT.
Contact: Maurice Fermont
Comments on the latest European working conditions survey
Despite difficult economic situation, companies throughout the EU continue to pay high attention to health and safety at work, skills development, employee engagement, as well as other working conditions. The major challenge for policy-makers remains to reduce unemployment, especially among the young. To do so, it is necessary to carry on structural reforms and create a regulatory environment supporting productivity increases and competitiveness of EU companies. Social partners have an important role to play in supporting these goals. These were the main messages of BusinessEurope during the conference “Changing working conditions in Europe: Moving towards better work” organised by Eurofound and the EU Presidency on 24 November 2015 in Luxembourg around the publication of the latest European Working Conditions Survey.
Contact: Magda Bober
European SME Assembly: highlighting the preconditions for successful digital transformation of SMEs
The opportunities of digital economy for SMEs will not just materialise by themselves, but will only develop on the basis of fast progress in achieving the single market for goods and services and the digital single market. This is what Anna-Lena Bohm, Vice-Chair of BusinessEurope Entrepreneurship and SME Committee, said at a workshop organised in the framework of the European SME Assembly in Luxembourg on 19 November. The SME Assembly was organised by the Luxembourg Presidency and the European Commission, with the participation of HRH the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. Anna-Lena Bohm outlined different directions for Commission initiatives that will help support the digital transformation of SMEs.
EU and US businesses ask for rapid agreement on a strengthened Safe Harbour framework
The recent EU Court of Justice ruling invalidating the Safe Harbour framework to transfer personal data between the EU and USA puts business in a very problematic situation. BusinessEurope and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a joint letter to European Commission Vice-President Ansip, Commissioners Jourova and Oettinger, as well as the Chair of article 29 Working Party Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin and their counterparts in the USA, calling for an expedite agreement on a strengthened Safe Harbour. Moreover, national data protection authorities must guarantee Europe-wide consistency in their approach to international data transfers and avoid serious disruptions in the digital single market.
How to improve synergies between EU and national social dialogues discussed in Helsinki
It is important that social dialogue, at EU and national levels, addresses the real labour market issues where structural improvements are needed to bring growth and competitiveness back in Europe. BusinessEurope calls for a renewed EU strategy based on flexicurity principles. This includes the need for strengthened coordination and mutual learning efforts to reflect and respond to the needs of more diverse economic and social situations in the enlarged EU. During a seminar on 17-18 November, social partners from Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands and Portugal shared theirs views on collective bargaining, national social agendas, and EU social dialogue texts and agreements. The meeting was co-organised by BusinessEurope, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the European Public Employers and Enterprises (CEEP) and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME). Held in Helsinki, this was the last event of a series of four capacity-building seminars organised in 2014-2015.
Contact: Guillaume Cravero
- 30 November-1 December 2015: meeting of the Competitiveness Council
- 30 November-11 December 2015: United Nations climate change conference, Paris
- 2 December 2015: High-level conference on the digital transformation of European industry and enterprises
- 2 December 2015: European Parliament plenary sitting, Brussels
- 3 December 2015: Danish referendum on Justice and Home Affairs opt-out
- 3-4 December 2015: IP summit, Berlin
Contact: BusinessEurope Headlines