The 4th annual conference of The State of the European Union took place at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on 14 May 2014.
Please find below the Press Release for the Conference:
THE STATE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION – 14 May 2014
European multinationals to make proposals to the new EU Commission in five areas aiming at re-energising Europe’s competitiveness and attractiveness.
(Brussels, 14 May 2014) – The fourth edition of the State of the European Union (EU) annual conference at the Egmont Palace supported by the knowledge partnership of EY and INSEAD, rallied 40 multinationals that debated on vital actionable solutions contributing to the enhancement of the European competitiveness and foreign investment attractiveness.
With 26% of Europe’s sales, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is critical to our economy but Europe’s share of global FDI inflows is at its lowest ever (20%). So Europe needs a wake-up call.
The conference delegates reiterated that Europe still retains a number of key strengths (innovation leadership, qualified skills, high-level of education, market diversity, scientific excellence, and infrastructure quality) but they also acknowledged that Europe suffers its own image as confined in the past and on a continued path of decline.
The State of the European Union conference proposed five immediate actions to the new European commission to enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of Europe:
- Growth: Participants stressed that Europe must have an ICT and a life-science strategy as well as an ambitious and creative “Energy Plan”. Possibly considering the development of balanced portfolio of energy sources, from renewables to shale gas, might prevail.
- Talents: Europe needs more flexible labour markets to ensure higher rotation and access to more job opportunities. To do so, the priority is to identify the job needs by sector and geographical area at the European level. Developing the relevant apprenticeship in the industry in order to train people and take them to work is vital. This could be coordinated by employment agency at the European level. In order to facilitate flexibility development and mobility, participants recommended a European Identification Number across all Europe (EIN).
- Competitiveness: Europe needs focus and speed. One easy and fast way to improve competitiveness is to improve governance. In this context, the main recommendation would be to keep the 28 commissioners and regroup them into the 5 following clusters:
- Industry, services and digitalisation
- Energy / Environment
- Home Affairs
- External relations (in charge of the image of Europe)
- Innovation: financing start-ups in the digital and life sciences industries, is one of Europe’s great weaknesses. One solution is to create pan-European venture capital funds, which multinationals could help finance and govern. Europe should also create three innovation zones of excellence for Europe and a European patent system more accessible to start-ups and SMEs.
- Marketing Europe: Foreign investors will publicly and actively promote Europe if the next EU commission commits to create a genuine “Invest in Europe” organization. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy should also be in charge of the global promotion of the image of Europe. Finally, Europe also needs to engage youth and make better use of social media for reinforcing its credibility.
Prior to the State of the EU annual conference, around 30 non-European multinationals signed a manifesto (that you can find herebelow) addressing the European leadership and highlighting their concerns and recommendations for the future of Europe. The above-mentioned recommendations will also be handed out to the official candidates running for the upcoming European elections for their comments and consideration.
About The State of The European Union
The State of The European Union provides an annual platform where senior representatives of the business community can share their experiences and vision of Europe and discuss their outlook with leading decision makers. By giving the floor to leading executives from some of the world’s most successful companies, this event focuses on providing an insider view as to why multinationals consider Europe as an essential of their global strategy.
Contact: Jean-Baptiste Labadie, Project Manager, DZA, firstname.lastname@example.org, +33 7 86 71 06 69
We Believe in Europe
A Manifesto for Change
We, the undersigned executives, represent and lead divisions and subsidiaries of multinational companies in Europe. Our companies play a significant role in Europe’s economic life. According to Eurostat’s data, we and our peers, foreign-controlled affiliates in the EU, represent 1.1% of the total number of businesses, but a much larger share of the total European working population (14.2%), turnover (26%) and value added (22%).
We are an integral part of the economic and social fabric of every EU member state. On a daily basis, each of us acts as Europe’s ambassador by promoting member states as well as the EU’s attractiveness for global investment. We are continually encouraging our corporations to invest in Europe. However, it has been increasingly difficult to convince the decision makers at HQs that Europe still offers a favorable business climate. In the medium term, this represents a real threat to Europe’s ability to maintain its strategic position. Our corporate offices benchmark Europe against other regions of the world and find that, in many cases, those regions provide a far more dynamic, agile and business-friendly environment.
Europe still retains a number of key strengths: the world’s number one GDP, the quality of its work force, its high level of education, the diversity of its markets, its scientific excellence and the quality of its infrastructure. Europe is a leader in strategic sectors, such as digital, health and clean-tech industries, while maintaining historic strongholds in the transportation, energy, consumer goods, aerospace, automotive and chemical sectors. Through them, Europe has a real leadership position that can be expanded. However, these strengths no longer are sufficient.
In a world that moves quicker than it does, Europe is confronted with half-hearted growth, significant levels of debt, downgraded competitiveness, and too much fragmentation and complexity. Companies are required to operate in a complex and heavy regulatory environment, one that contributes to the global image of Europe as being stuck in the past and on a continued path of decline. There is no question that we have stability and quality of life in parts of Europe that is the envy of others. But that alone is not sufficient to attract foreign investment.
In our pro-Europe initiatives, we continue to highlight the positive aspects of Europe’s progress, emphasizing that Europe is doing its best to boost growth, while implementing necessary structural reforms to enhance productivity. Yet the process is too slow and allows the skeptics to point to Europe’s weaknesses.
We firmly believe that there is an urgent need to improve Europe’s competitiveness and attractiveness by emphasizing economic stability, putting a real focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, and better aligning Europe’s industrial and service sectors with future consumer and business demands. Furthermore, Europe and its member states must do more to actively attract non-European talent to Europe’s universities and businesses as well as convince its own citizens qualified talent to remain in the region.
If European businesses are going to make the most of opportunities arising from globalization, then international barriers must be removed. The EU should therefore pursue policies and encourage its member states to increase their openness to trade and increase R&D spending jointly with the private sector. The EU and its member states must also urgently commit to ambitious reforms in relation to labor costs and flexibility, tax relief, and administrative and regulatory simplification. Further economic integration, fewer regulations and a renewed focus on education, competitive energy prices and a significant marketing effort focused on Made in Europe would go a long way to putting us on par with our main competitors and attracting future investments and resources into Europe.
These reforms will affect not just multinational companies, but all companies – large and small – operating in Europe. With the help of EY and INSEAD, we already have identified some recommendations from discussions held at the annual The State of the European Union conference. These recommendations will help Europe become a more attractive and sustainable destination for foreign direct investment. These recommendations will again be refined at the 2014 conference in May and then shared with the current and future leaders of European institutions and member states for debate and discussion.
But actions not words, will provide a strong signal and would help us convince our HQs to choose Europe as a preferred destination for international investment. The upcoming elections and the changing of the guard at the various European institutions will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to effect change in the future state of the European Union. Let’s not miss the chance for change.
Signatories of the Manifesto
- 3M (USA), Patrick Deconinck, Senior Vice President, West Europe
- AMERICAN EXPRESS (USA), Eric Audoin, Chief Executive Officer France, Belgium, Netherlands
- AVAGO TECHNOLOGIES (USA/SINGAPORE), Jean-Marc Pesnel, Vice President Sales Europe, Middle East & Africa
- BAIN & COMPANY (USA), Olivier Marchal, Chairman France, former Managing Director Bain EMEA
- BLUESTAR (CHINA), Olivier De Clermont Tonnerre, Deputy General Manager Strategy
- CYAMLAN (CHINA), Landing Zhang, Chief Executive Officer
- ESSEX (USA), Valéry Mercier, Vice President IVA Global Enamel
- EY (USA), Jay Nibbe, Area Managing Partner EMEIA
- GENERAL ATLANTIC (USA), Frank Brown, Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer
- GENERAL ELECTRIC (USA), Ferdinando “Nani” Beccalli-Falco Senior Vice President , President and CEO of GE Europe; CEO GE Germany
- HERTZ (USA), Michel Taride, Executive Vice President and President Hertz International
- HEXCEL (USA), Thierry Merlot, VP & GM Europe/Middle-East-Africa/Asia-Pacific
- HP (USA), Peter Ryan, Senior Vice President Enterprise Group EMEA and Managing Director EMEA
- INTEGREON (USA), Robert Gogel, Chief Executive Officer
- KOBO (JAPAN), Jean-Marc Dupuis, Managing Director EMEA
- KORN FERRY (USA), Bernard Zen-Ruffinen, President EMEA
- LENNOX (USA), Hervé Martino, Vice Président, Managing Director HVAC & Refrigeration EMEIA
- THE MANITOWOC COMPANY INC. (USA), Eric Etchart, Senior Vice President, and President of the Crane Segment
- MICROSOFT (USA), Afke Schaart, Senior Director Institutional Affairs
- MSD (USA), Bruno Strigini, President Europe and Canada
- PARNASO (BRASIL), Eduardo Eugenio Gouvêa Vieira, Chief Executive Director
- PFIZER (USA), Andreas Penk, Head Oncology Europe/Africa/Middle East Country Manager Germany
- PROLOGIS (USA), Philip Dunne, President-Europe
- ROTAM (CHINA), Jean-Michel Duhamel, Rotam CropSciences Chief Commercial Officie
- SNC LAVALIN (CANADA), Philippe Grasset, Senior Vice President Europe
- SONY (JAPAN), Serge Foucher, Executive Vice President Europe
- STEELCASE (USA), Guillaume Alvarez, Senior Vice President EMEA
- SUMITOMO (JAPAN), Marc Vermeire, Managing Director, Sumitomo Chemical Europe
- TORAY FILMS EUROPE (JAPAN), Marc Cogny, President and Operations General Manager
- UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION (USA), Thomas Reynaert, President United Technologies International Operations Europe
- XEROX (USA), Jacques Guers, Corporate Vice President Global Accounts Operations