BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2023-15
“Thirty years of the Single Market is a significant milestone to celebrate, but there are also matters of concern due to persisting barriers and even rising fragmentation in the EU Single Market”, said BusinessEurope President Fredrik Persson at the Single Market Forum (SIMFO) conference in Stockholm on 2 May, pointing to the worsening situation in terms of investment climate. He stressed that there is a mass of incoming EU legislation, which often creates disproportionate additional regulatory burdens for businesses or avenues for market fragmentation by Member States. Therefore, companies cannot scale up to other countries without facing a wide variety of barriers. “Especially SMEs are struggling with the growing number of compliance obligations and the costs that are associated with them”, he added.
The event was organised by the Swedish EU Council Presidency in collaboration with the European Commission, and brought together EU policymakers, businesses, think tanks and other stakeholders to take stock of achievements and look into the future priorities. Speakers included Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market; Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise; Anna Cavazzini, MEP and Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection; Johan Forssell, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade; and Taras Kachka, Deputy Minister of Economy, Trade Representative of Ukraine, amongst others.
Whilst celebrating the EU integration and huge Single Market achievements, speakers also acknowledged the remaining barriers to cross-border business and increasing risks of Single Market fragmentation, often stemming from massive flow of regulations also at the EU level. They discussed how to ensure that neither EU initiatives nor national measures by Member States undermine the Single Market and ways to safeguard it, especially through better implementation of rules. Commissioner Breton confirmed the Commission’s commitment to working for a better and more resilient Single Market and underlined he had a list of actions necessary to achieve this.
Contact: Martynas Barysas
Social protection: what’s the way forward?
By Anna Kwiatkiewicz, Senior Adviser for Social Affairs
The upcoming Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU (1st half of 2024) puts social protection high on the agenda: on 26 April it organised a seminar on “Strenghtening the European Pillar of Social Rights” to discuss different policy options. Its ambition - taking the European Pillar of Social Rights to the next level - should take economic reality into consideration.
Economic and social progress go hand in hand. In order to support national social systems, we need to increase employment and improve productivity. This is particularly important in the context of serious labour force and skills shortages across all sectors and all EU Member States. Additionally, the EU working age population is expected to shrink still further over the next years and decades, with the loss on the labour market of an additional 35 million persons by 2050.
European discussions on social protection should better respect Member States' competences over social protection financing. Increasing taxation is not a desirable solution as this would deteriorate Europe’s competitiveness. The way forward is to focus on improving the efficiency of social investments and spending through concerted policy efforts of the European Commission, Member States and social partners.
Another important step is to bring (back) to the labour market different sub-groups of the economically inactive population. Their participation will ensure sufficient labour supply, secure the financial stability of social security systems, and promote social inclusion and a more inclusive labour market. Finally, in the context of the twin transition, relevant and regularly updated skills are the condition for good quality jobs that offer a sustainable way out of poverty.
BusinessEurope encourages the Belgian Presidency to take a pragmatic approach to supporting so much needed modernisation of national social protection systems, whilst respecting national specificities as well as social dialogue practices.
More info: Anna Kwiatkiewicz
Structural skills mismatches continue to be a barrier to labour market transitions, especially for people looking to enter into work for the first time. Better alignment between employers’ skills needs and education and training programmes is vital for achieving better skills matching as well as fostering job-to-job transitions. A key aspect of this is the more timely and effective updating of curriculum across different education and training pathways. This was among the key messages given by Maxime Cerutti, BusinessEurope Director of Social Affairs, during the informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) Council meeting that took place in Stockholm on 3 and 4 May. The meeting also discussed the future of social protection. Following the positive experience of the setting-up of a European network of Public Employment Services some years ago, BusinessEurope recommends to the European Commission and the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU to look into the creation of a European network of national social security institutions to provide an EU forum for regular cooperation and benchlearning among the Member States, involving the social partners.
Contact: Robert Plummer
- 19-21 May: G7 Hiroshima 2023
- 31 May: Fifth Annual Conference on Regulatory Scrutiny in the EU
- 6 June: Reuters Event: Responsible Business Europe 2023
- 14-15 June: International IP Enforcement Summit
- 19-20 June: TDI23 – Day of Industry
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