Competitiveness must shape European priorities

Wednesday high-level panel of the Europe Unlocked alliance provided an excellent platform for a debate of the most influential representatives of Czech and Swedish business, high-ranking officials of the Czech and Swedish governments and numerous distinguished guests on concrete opportunities to strengthen competitiveness and sustainable growth in Europe.

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The international event, taking place in the prestigious premises of the Palace of Liechtenstein in Prague, was supported by insightful speeches of the Director General for EU Affairs of the Czech Office of the Government Mr Štěpán Černý and the State Secretary of the Swedish Prime Minister’s Office Mr Christian Danielsson. The key speakers on behalf of business were Ms Milena Jabůrková, vice-president of the Czech Confederation of Industry, Mr Tomáš Prouza, vice-president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, and Ms Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. Another valuable perspective to the discussion was brought by the Executive Director of EUROPEUM, the independent Institute for European Policy, Mr Martin Vokálek.

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The debate entitled “Competitiveness in Europe: What are the policy choices necessary to secure a more competitive and prosperous future?” highlighted the critical role competitiveness plays in shaping Europe’s future. Over the past 15 years, Europe has faced several crises that have tested its resilience and adaptability. In order to bounce back and thrive, it is imperative for the region to focus on strengthening its competitiveness and ensuring that all policies and initiatives are geared towards this goal.

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The last speech of the state of the Union, presented by the President of the European Commission Ms von der Leyen in September 2023, indicated that competitiveness was regaining a strong momentum in the EU. As the panellists pointed out, this momentum must now be used in the most effective way to strengthen the sustainable growth of our companies and the prosperity of our citizens.

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As the participants further stated, apart from the work programme of the future EC and the new European Parliament, to be elected this June, it is also necessary to push the idea of strengthening competitiveness amongst the priorities of individual Member States. Especially, as regards the failure to comply with obligations in the area of application of acquis, the issue of gold-plating, distorting the Single Market by excessive state subsidies, blocking the ratification of FTAs etc. Failures to comply with the Treaty have to be penalized much more consistently and their identifications should not be dependent solely on European institutions, but an effective cooperation of affected companies and their respective national governments should also be involved.

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Besides the activities of EU institutions and national governments (shaping the regulation, infrastructure or macroeconomic factors), the European competitiveness has to be continuously strengthened also by European companies themselves. Through innovations, the use of modern technologies, up-skilling etc.

The event was co-organized by the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, the Czech Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and kindly supported by the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic.

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The recently formed coalition named Europe Unlocked, jointly pushing the topic of sustainable growth and competitiveness to the top of the agenda of European as well as national institutions to “unlock” the real potential of European integration, consists of business representatives mainly from the North, Central and Eastern Europe. More information on Europe Unlocked can be found here.

Photos: Government of the Czech Republic

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