Competitiveness Day: “Untie business from burdensome regulation”

At a conference organised by UNICE on 14 November, Europe’s business leaders repeated their call for urgent implementation of the Lisbon goals to boost EU competitiveness.

The debate centred around the challenges facing the EU’s economy and the measures required to bring it back on track. Participants called for an urgent implementation of theLisbonobjectives. Michael Rogowski reminded the audience that three years after Lisbon, the EU had not only failed to catch up with the US, but even lost ground.

The speakers emphasised that the regulatory burden on European business must urgently be eased to prevent companies moving out of Europe into more entrepreneur-friendly environments such as the US. Moreover, the business community called for continued reforms of the social security and tax systems, more flexibility in the national labour markets, a strict implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact, renewed effort to complete the Doha development agenda and more investment in research and development activities. However,Daniel Janssenfrom Solvay warned that the

3 per cent R&D objectivewas unrealistic without substantial prior changes in the framework conditions for R&D in Europe.


In the press conference of the Competitiveness Day, UNICE PresidentJürgen Strubepointed to the Competitiveness Council as the main instrument to watch over the EU's progress on the Lisbon agenda.Antonio D'Amato, President of Italy's Confindustria criticised the Commission's chemicals review andMichael Rogowski, President of German BDI, underlined the need to stick to the strict rules of the current Stability and Growth Pact.

The recent Global Competitiveness Report by theWorld Economic Forumdoes not paint such a bleak picture (see

EURACTIV 31 October 2003) . Especially the Scandinavian Member States are world leaders in competitiveness, with Finland even first place before the American economy. Asked about this by EURACTIV, Mr D'Amato answered that the World Economic Forum's report focuses too much on individual countries, instead of comparing the competitiveness of the big economic blocs.


Under the guiding theme 'Release companies' potential - Free Gulliver!', a high-level debate on Europe's competitiveness took place in Brussels on 14 November. Business leaders met to discuss with politicians such as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Commissioner Erkki Liikanen as well as business representatives including German BDI President Michael Rogowski and Daniel Janssen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Solvay.


Enterprise Commissioner Erkii Liikanen announced a new Communication on an Integrated Approach to Competitiveness. The objective of this strategy paper, which is expected to be adopted on Tuesday 18 November, is to bring together in an integrated framework a contribution of all policies that effect competitiveness and to develop a response to emerging concerns about de-industrialisation in the EU.


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