EU institutions must become operational again

More than 100 European business leaders from 35 countries representing 40 European employers' associations and 20 million companies have discussed the key issues for business and the upcoming institutional period. In Helsinki, just two weeks before the start of Finland's EU Council Presidency, top industry leaders discussed the Presidency, its priorities and other important issues.

Business would like to see, among other things, the internal market, rules-based international trade, strategic industrial policy, innovation, digitization and investment into skills among those priorities. The Heads of Delegation also met Finnish President Sauli Niinistöm and Prime Minister Antti Rinn. President Jaroslav Hanák and CEO Dagmar Kuchtová represented the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic.

Naturally, participants paid also attention to the outcomes of recent European elections and priorities for the new European institutions. “I have clearly agreed with the leaders of the European employers ‘organizations on the key importance of a European Union unity. First and foremost, we call on the upcoming European institutions to start working as quickly as possible and to deal with an important agenda,” Hanák said. While at the end of this year, European business will present comprehensive priorities for the upcoming five-year plan, expectations for the first hundred days of the new Commission we can expect in the coming weeks. The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, which introduced its priorities at the end of April at a press conference in Prague, is actively involved in the process of preparing European business requirements.

There were topics such as China, competition rules and Brexit on the agenda. The risk of Great Britain leaving the Union with no deal (so called cliff-edge) is still there, and seems to be greater than ever due to recent events in Britain and the stalemate in its parliament. "We agreed that it is necessary to make every effort to prevent this black scenario. However at the same time it is necessary to continue preparations for the worst option in order to minimize the negative impacts of a hard brexit, for example in the area of free data flows,” said CEO Kuchtová.

There was also a discussion about the development in the Member States and the European Union as such. As BusinessEurope's brand new spring economic outlook shows, economic growth has fallen considerably in the second half of last year, with growth of 1.6% in the EU28 and 1.3% in the euro area this year. The figures for 2020 in this respect are 1 to 2 tenths of a percent more optimistic. Inflation is expected to reach 1.6% this year in the EU and unemployment is predicted to be 6.5%. In the euro area, those numbers are expected to reach 1.3% and 7.4%. Among other things, the risk of no-deal Brexit and international trade disputes, with escalating conflict between the US and China in the spotlight, are rising concerns.

Tereza Řezníčková
section Aktuálně