BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2016-09
Digital single market strategy: strong focus needed on truly competitiveness-enhancing measures
Digital is a key tool for Europe to regain competitiveness and create growth and jobs. Implementation of the digital single market strategy must focus on truly competitiveness-enhancing measures, rather than create unnecessary and burdensome rules for companies. This was stressed by BusinessEurope Deputy Director General Jérôme P. Chauvin meeting Paraskevi Michou, European Commission Deputy Secretary-General, on 9 March. In particular, BusinessEurope is not convinced that addressing geo-blocking in itself would reflect the Commission’s broad line of "being big on big things, and small on small things". What is key is to focus on addressing challenges and fragmentation that companies face when trading across borders. This is the real root of the problem and the main reason why traders have to adapt their offers in different markets.
EU in danger of reform fatigue
There is a danger of reform fatigue setting in as the economic crisis becomes more distant, according to BusinessEurope’s latest Reform Barometer, published on 3 March. An assessment made by BusinessEurope’s member federations across the EU suggests 88% of the EU’s country-specific recommendations (CSRs) focus on the right issues in EU member states, but only 20% have been followed by satisfactory implementation. The report also provides an in-depth analysis which raises concerns about Europe’s preparedness to deal with the challenge of an ageing society, as well as a special chapter assessing the progress made under the European Commission’s investment plan, one year on from its launch.
Reaping the full benefits of simplification and cost reduction through e-procurement
The full benefits of e-procurement will only be realised if its uptake is improved. This can be achieved through ensuring security of commercial business information and interoperability between national e-procurement systems and those across borders to fully open markets when using e-procurement. Aidan Sweeney (IBEC) expressed these views during the CEN BII workshop on enabling electronic procurement in Europe on 9 March. A user-friendly European Single Procurement Document could be unlocked through facilitating the ‘once only’ principle.
Contact: Patrick Grant
Position paper published on tax avoidance
BusinessEurope this week sent its position paper on the European Commission’s anti-tax avoidance proposals to Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and key commissioners. While BusinessEurope fully supports fair tax competition and the objective to fight fraud and evasion, the paper also sets out our strong concerns that by going beyond the OECD agreement, the Commission’s January proposals could raise effective corporation tax rates and put the EU at a competitive disadvantage in attracting global investment. We are particularly concerned that the Commission has failed to produce an impact assessment for a proposal that could have a far-reaching impact on EU competitiveness. Such competitiveness concerns should almost be foremost in the Commission's thinking as it considers whether to make further proposals for public country-by-country reporting of financial information.
Update of EU export controls regime: strike the right balance between trade and security policy objectives
An up-to-date EU export controls and dual-use items regime should be able to respond to the challenges that the dual-use sector is currently facing and strike the right balance between trade and security policy objectives. As discussions are focusing in particular on the human rights approach that could be incorporated in the EU dual-use regulation, it is key for BusinessEurope to stress the importance of clarifying concepts and taking account of practical challenges that adopting this approach could bring for the competitiveness of European companies. In this regard, although it is critical to ensure respect for human rights, the dual-use regulation may not be the most appropriate or effective tool to achieve this objective. BusinessEurope’s letter to the European Commission also addresses other areas critical for the modernisation of the EU export controls regime, including: harmonised implementation within the EU, application of catch-all controls, facilitation of intra-company technology transfers, ways to level the international playing field for European companies and, finally, the increased role of the private sector in the export controls policy-making process.
Read more or contact: Sofia Bournou
Beware of the effects of increased risk weights for banks
Suggestions from the Basel Committee to increase the risk weight for banks' equity holdings would have a negative effect on the European economy, BusinessEurope wrote to the European Commission and the Basel Committee. Applying a 250% risk weight for equity holdings that are not deducted and a 150% risk weight for subordinated debt and capital instruments other than equities below the threshold deductions, would make own fund financing of enterprises by banks more difficult to obtain and lead to the selling of existing holdings by banks.
TTIP won’t be ambitious without regulatory cooperation for financial services
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) must treat financial services in a comprehensive manner that addresses both the market access and regulatory cooperation dimensions as proposed for every other sector in the agreement. This was the main message of the joint letter BusinessEurope and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent to European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and US Trade Representative Michael Froman ahead of their stocktaking exercise. It is difficult to see an ambitious TTIP that fails to treat financial services in a comprehensive manner.
- 13 March: German regional elections in Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Sachsen-Anhalt
- 15 March: stakeholder workshop on the 'single digital gateway', Brussels
- 16 March: 'eSkills for jobs' conference, The Hague
- 16 March: Tripartite Social Summit
- 17-18 March: European Council meeting
Contact: BusinessEurope Headlines