BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2019-03
A BusinessEurope delegation headed by President Pierre Gattaz and Director General Markus J. Beyrer met on 29 January with the European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to present our business ambition for Europe in 2030. This ambition sets out what is needed to create the right framework conditions to enhance competitiveness and entrepreneurship and enable business to play its role, in the interest of society. The group also discussed the business priorities for the coming months and years.
Contact: Jasmin Ploner
BusinessEurope welcomes tomorrow's entry into force of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership agreement. Our Director General Markus J. Beyrer explains the importance of the new largest free trade area in the world.
Rising trade tensions - Europe’s response
By Luisa Santos, Director for International Relations
We are in a critical moment for Europe and also for the world trade.
In Europe we face a number of challenges like Brexit or the rising populism that leads to protectionism. We will have European elections soon and this will be a critical moment for European citizens to show they believe in a free and open society and that walls are not the solution. Extremist solutions are not good for companies and they are also not good for citizens.
But the challenges are also outside Europe.
We are concerned by the behaviour of traditional allies like the U.S. that have decided to play solo and are jeopardising the international order that has been allowing peace and economic prosperity in the world for the last decades.
We have a global economy that depends on global supply chains. Suppliers are scattered around the world and not just in one country or region. Countries need to import to be able to export. Increasing duties on imports is above all putting an extra cost on consumers, both citizens and companies.
European companies have large investments in the U.S. and China. A “trade war” between the U.S. and China is also bad for our companies.
On the other end we recognise, some of the complains the U.S. has against China are valid and they merit to be discussed and addressed. Europe has already said that it is ready to work with the U.S. and other partners like Japan. But we need to work together and not against each other.
These topics were at the centre of the discussions at the BusinessEurope International Relations Committee meeting that took place in Athens on 30 and 31 January and was hosted by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).
An underlining message in the discussions with members, representatives from Greek companies and government officials is that companies need an open, stable and predictable environment to invest and do business. This means they need clear and transparent rules and rules that are conducive to business.
Protectionism and unilateralism disrupt long standing rules and business models. They jeopardise trust and ultimately will have a negative impact on investment.
Contact: Luisa Santos
BusinessEurope Director General Markus J. Beyrer met Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, on 24 January. Both strongly committed to rules-based trade, the EU and New Zealand are engaged in negotiations for a deal that will not only strengthen their economic ties, but will also more closely connect like-minded countries that support fair and free trade at times of uncertainty. "We are confident that every effort will be made to ensure good progress in the negotiations for a trade agreement before this European Commission leaves office", Beyrer said.
Contact: Eleonora Catella
During an informal Ministerial meeting in Davos on 25 January 2019, 76 countries decided to launch negotiations for an agreement on e-commerce in the framework of the World trade Organisation (WTO). This is a crucial step towards agreeing on common, international rules in an area that presents excellent opportunities for growth and employment but in which companies face an unlevel playing field. BusinessEurope calls on WTO members to be open and ambitious in the negotiations, in order to reach a comprehensive agreement on e-commerce that will improve access to markers for electronic goods and digitally-enabled services and will create a predictable legal framework to address concerns on issues such as: forced localisation, cross-border data flows or the safety of payments. We hope to see substantial progress ahead of the next WTO Ministerial Conference taking place in June 2020. Supporting the launch of these negotiations, BusinessEurope co-signed a global statement on e-commerce, and will remain active throughout the negotiating process.
Contact: Sofia Bournou
“The circular economy in Europe is moving in the right direction, but we are not there yet. There are still major challenges to create a real market for secondary raw materials, which is key to make a circular business case for companies”, said BusinessEurope’s Environment and Climate Advisor Leon de Graaf at an event hosted by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) in Dublin. The event was aimed at discussing the opportunities and challenges for business innovations to boost the circular economy in Europe. “Through our Circular Economy Industry Platform, we identified that a lack of access to finance, enough high-quality recyclates and technical skills are amongst the key barriers to create a real market for secondary raw materials in Europe”, he added.
Contact: Leon de Graaf
Companies are increasingly taking sustainability into account to make their decisions. Self-regulation (e.g. company-led initiatives, national corporate governance codes adopting sustainability principles, etc.) provides companies with flexibility and this is very important, as it allows a company of no matter which size, ownership structure or area to adapt and give its contribution to sustainability goals. Whatever approach the EU takes regarding due diligence in global value chains, it should not punish those companies that have been active in sustainability. It should try to incorporate what they already do and at the same time encourage others to keep up without triggering too many unsurpassable burdens (financial or other). These messages where delivered by Francesco Chiappetta, Chair of BusinessEurope Company Law Working Group at the Sustainable Corporate Governance Conference organised by the European Commission on 24 January. Chiappetta also presented concrete examples of initiatives from Pirelli and Autogrill with their value chains.
Contact: Pedro Oliveira
On 30 January, BusinessEurope's Environment Working Group discussed with the European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment the latest developments on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) evaluation. BusinessEurope recently responded to the Commission’s Roadmap on the subject, showing doubts about whether this evaluation will achieve its objective, counting only on partial results of the Seville process and industrial permits. “We are particularly wary of the investment uncertainty it may cause, at a time when only a small fraction of the permits for IED installations have been updated, and when not even half of the 50.000 permits would be updated by 2021”, concluded BusinessEurope’s letter to the Commission. On 31 January, the Water Task Force also held an exchange of views with Directorate-General for the Environment, on the on-going EU water policy review.
Contact: Cecilia Serrano-Piedecasas
- 1 February: EU – Japan Economic Partnership Agreement enters into force
- 5-6 February: EU Industry Days 2019
- 6 February: Conference “Promoting and reinforcing the EU Social Dialogue”
- 19 February: BusinessEurope conference: What do SMEs expect from the future EU SME policy?
- 19 February: BusinessEurope event: Taxation of the digitalised economy: analysing the OECD approach