BusinessEurope, its member federations and the overwhelming majority of European companies are strong supporters of the European Union. This has been the case in 1958, when we were founded, and remains the case today! We are proud to be Europeans.
I have recently presented BusinessEurope’s contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe to MEPs, national politicians, and various stakeholders at the Conference Plenary in Strasbourg. In this paper we present 10 political messages to the Conference.
The European business community is worried about the State of our Union. While we welcome the exercise of listening to citizens and developing new ideas to strengthen the European Union, we are warning not to create unrealistic expectations that might not be met in the end. We are also convinced that greater emphasis should be put on economic issues since these lay out the foundation for a stronger and prosperous Europe. This means also to ensure a better balance and representation of economic voices in this process.
Europe is at a turning point. We are hopefully now entering the exit phase of the pandemic. But our companies are still struggling. And any extra burden will make it even more difficult for them to do what they are supposed to do: creating prosperity and jobs. Having listened to the State of the Union speech of President von der Leyen, or reading the 2022 Commission work programme, we see a lot about spendings, but little on earnings. This has to change.
And there is another, geopolitical and systemic factor we have to keep in mind. Most of us cherish the European Way of Life. But our freedoms, our political systems, our stability etc. are more and more under pressure. If we want to maintain it, we need to remain competitive, we need to be economically strong, have a functioning Single Market and a rule-based international trade network. If we don’t manage to deliver on this, in the midterm, I am afraid the European voice will not be heard in the future orchestra of large superpowers.
If we look at the points that have so far come out of this Conference, such as social, climate, education, jobs, health etc, these are all important for the European model. But to succeed on these in a sustainable way it will be key to create a solid economic basis first. This has been part of our success story in the past, and we hope we can revitalise and reform it for the future.
In this vein, BusinessEurope and its members will continue to be the voice of reason, and play an active, but also warning role in this Conference!
Director General BusinessEurope