Globalisation key for European competitiveness, say business leaders

At the annual Competitiveness Day, business representatives have reiterated their call for economic reforms within the EU and stressed how important it is for European businesses to be able to access new markets.

The European employers’ federation UNICE’s President Ernest-Antoine Seillière spoke of a “deep crisis” of European competitiveness in the face of competition from growing markets such as China, which has just announced a growth rate of 9.6% for 2005. 

At this year’s UNICE Competitiveness Day on 20 October, Seillière argued that globalisation and the ability to access the fast growing markets outside Europe were key for European competitiveness. He therefore called on international leaders to make the Hong Kong trade talks a success. “If this fails, bilateralisation would be the new rule of the game” with dire consequences for European business, he warned.

Jürgen R. Thumann, the president of the German employers’ federation BDI, also emphasised the importance of taking a global perspective. “My concern is that we are talking too much about our in-house issues while the rest of the world is moving on. While Europe is navel-gazing, we are losing competitiveness every day.”

However, Seillière also called for further economic reform within Europe and criticised the delay of some member states in presenting their national action plans for reform to the Commission (see EURACTIV 19 October 2005). In addition, he was less than impressed with the performance of the UK Presidency to date.

Also on 20 October, the Commission published a report on ‘European Values in a Globalised World’ as its contribution to the informal European Summit on 27 October in Hampton Court, London. The report also calls for economic reform and the modernisation of European social systems to face up to the challenges of global competition, the impact of new technologies and an ageing society.

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