The first Economist Business Roundtable brought four Commissioners together with American companies for a discussion on trade policy, protectionism and IPR protection.
Apart from media briefings with Commissioners Verheugen, Almunia and Kovacs, only the first session of the Economist Business Roundtable was open to the press, featuring Mr Barroso, President of the European Commission, Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, and Jim Allaker, Vice President of Nike.
Both corporate representatives stressed the need for better IPR protection, especially in relation to India and China, on which Mr Barroso “agreed a 100%” also supporting joint efforts with the US government.
On China, Barroso sketched out the broad policy document, “Communication on a strategy for EU trade and economic relations with China”, which is to be released by the Commission on 24 October, aiming at a framework for encompassing economic, cultural, scientific exchanges.
Regarding EU-China trade, Barroso said that, “our offensive interests will be intellectual property rights and the rules of a market economy”, which could eventually lead to granting the People’s Republic the WTO status of market economy.
On national restrictions to take-overs, Mr Barroso stressed that “Economic nationalism is a bad thing, wrong for Europe. We at the Commission are doing our job: we do open infringement procedures. Please look at the facts before listening to the comments: in the last 6 months there was more mergers & acquisitions activity under our jurisdiction than in the last three years.”
Based on a question from moderator Daniel Franklin of The Economist on his first two years of mandate, Mr Barroso expressed his frustration at the slow pace of change compared to national governments. He added. “But this is the price of preserving our national sovereignty. We will not have a fully integrated super-State, at least not in the near future.”