BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2021-23
On 1 July, the free trade agreement with South Korea, the first “new generation” deal of the European Union to enter into force, celebrated its 10th anniversary. To commemorate this important milestone achievement, BusinessEurope organised a joint event together with the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea and the Korea International Trade Association. “It is impressive what this agreement has paved the way for: with it, the European Union has inaugurated an ambitious and open trade policy that has put the EU at the center of a complex web of trade agreements all over the world and spanning five continents”, said Markus J. Beyrer, BusinessEurope Director General. Another aspect for which the EU-Korea FTA is famous, is that it was the first agreement to enter into force that includes a chapter dedicated to trade and sustainable development that attributes a monitoring role to civil society organisations, thereby promoting deep cooperation among parties and members of civil society, incentivising compliance with sustainability standards and stepping up domestic engagement. “Let me take this opportunity to praise South Korea for the important steps it has taken and congratulate you on the recent ratification of three International Labour Organisation core conventions. We look forward to their effective implementation and continue to hope that also the last outstanding convention will be ratified soon”, concluded Beyrer.
Contact: Eleonora Catella
Expectations for the Fit for 55 package
In a few days, the European Commission will present its Fit For 55 legislative package, a make-or-break moment for the EU’s climate policy. Watch BusinessEurope Director General Markus J. Beyrer lay out the expectations of the European business community.
Digitalisation and the greening of our economies are having a profound impact on industry and the skills and competences needed to improve productivity and enhance the overall competitiveness of European industry. Allied to existing structural patterns of skills mismatches, there is a clear need to up and re-skill Europe’s workforce. BusinessEurope calls for example for a new target of achieving 25% of tertiary graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by 2030, which should be part of industrial policy skills-related objectives to foster innovation. More generally, fostering public-private cooperation will be crucial to improve the conditions at EU Member State level to better incentivise employers to invest in their workers skills training. Universities also need to go through a deep transformation to make their mission more connected and open to cooperation with enterprises and labour market actors. These were the key messages given by Maxime Cerutti, Director of Social Affairs, at the Skills for Industry conference that took place on 30 June. As part of the up-skilling process it is important that new and rapidly changing occupational profiles are better embedded into curricula, which need to be updated in a timely and effective way with the involvement of employers, and where appropriate social partners, who are best placed to feed in information about evolving labour market needs. Watch Maxime Cerutti talking more about this topic.
Contact: Robert Plummer
Speaking at the European Agency for Safety and Health (EU OSHA) symposium on 5 July, Rebekah Smith, BusinessEurope Deputy Director for Social Affairs, welcomed the European Commission’s new strategic framework on occupational safety and health (OSH): “The right priorities have been identified and in general the right tools. The framework importantly recognises the substantial progress made over the last years to protect workers’ health and safety. This shows that our OSH system works well”. Commenting on the digital and green transitions, she highlighted the need for flexible tools to deal with the challenges but also optimise OSH opportunities, referring to the European social partners framework agreement on digitalisation. On psychosocial risks and stress at work, Rebekah noted that “the framework directive already applies and we don’t need a separate legislation. This is about creating the right company culture and effectively organising and managing work – these aspects can’t be legislated – we need guidance and tools instead”.
Contact: Rebekah Smith
While we support and welcome the efforts to further develop the better regulation framework in the EU, we still miss a clear political objective to reduce or, at least, control regulatory burdens. We regret that the 1in-1out principle application is postponed to the 2nd half of this European Commission’s mandate (2022) with only administrative, not overall regulatory, burdens planned for offsetting. This will hurt SMEs and their expectations most. European SMEs cannot be sure that the regulatory burden will not increase exponentially with all new initiatives of this Commission, in times when they struggle to survive. This was the core message of BusinessEurope Senior Adviser Daniele Olivieri during the SME Envoy Network online meeting on 1 July. During the meeting, the national and business SME representatives also discussed about national recovery plans. BusinessEurope stressed that EU Member States’ plans have many positive aspects, but to fully exploit the potential of the funds, there must be a greater focus on investments that can drive long-term competitiveness, particularly research and innovation, as well as more ambitious growth-enhancing reforms. Read the key findings from our Reform Barometer that lays out policy recommendations for national recovery and resilience plans.
Contact: Daniele Olivieri
- 12 July: International Tax Conference (ITC Munich)
- 18 August-3 September: European Forum Alpbach 2021
- 19-22 September: XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
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