Companies are instrumental in making global supply chains more sustainable - the challenge is to build a business model that is competitive, while promoting high-level environmental and social standards. This was a key message of BUSINESSEUROPE Director General Markus J. Beyrer at the high-level seminar on sustainable supply chains, organised by BUSINESSEUROPE and joined by top speakers including European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on 25 May in Brussels. In today’s globalised world, companies operate in extremely complex supply chains and they need to engage actively in making their supply chains sustainable, taking societal and environmental needs into account. BUSINESSEUROPE hopes that today’s open and constructive discussion with the EU Presidency, the European Commission and high-level speakers from companies, consumers and NGOs will help make the relationship between trade, social and environmental policies more effective and mutually beneficial. Photos
BUSINESSEUROPE fully supports the European Commission in its efforts to increase cross-border e-commerce and further develop the digital economy. The package presented today is timely because while e-commerce is continuously increasing at national level, cross-border online sales are still underdeveloped, also as a result of remaining fragmentation in the single market. BUSINESSEUROPE’s Director General Markus J. Beyrer said: "Cross-border e-commerce in Europe is still underdeveloped with only 20% of Internet users buying online from other EU member states. Complex rules, remaining fragmentation and a lack of confidence are rightly addressed by the package presented today. Still, we are concerned about the lack of clarity on certain elements of the geo-blocking proposal where loopholes may exist."
“Greece has done significant efforts and the political debate on the business location starts to go in the right direction. But more needs to be done. Greece needs more industry and more large companies to be involved successfully in high-end international value chains, it needs to broaden its tax base instead of increasingly taxing those who already pay taxes, it needs a justice reform to attract more foreign direct investment and it needs to be more outward-looking and export-oriented”, BUSINESSEUROPE Director General Markus J. Beyrer said on 24 May at the Industrial conference of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) in Athens.
BUSINESSEUROPE discussed the future WTO work programme with Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. The World Trade Organisation is currently discussing the post-Nairobi agenda; European business is keen to provide input on topics that are relevant for today's trade relations such as digital trade, non-tariff barriers, energy, raw materials or investment.
BUSINESSEUROPE Director General Markus J. Beyrer met Mr Zeng Peiyan, Chairman of the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) and former Vice-Prime Minister of China to explore the creation of a dialogue on key bilateral economic and trade subjects with a view to strengthen ties. It would involve Chinese and European CEOs, senior politicians and think tanks. This proposed “2-track dialogue” would take place annually and act as an important civil-society advisory body for both China and the EU.
On 20 May, the Council of Presidents of BUSINESSEUROPE was received by H.M. Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in the Palace Noordeinde, The Hague. The Presidents were individually presented to the King and they had discussions on the recent European economic and political developments, international affairs and societal challenges.
Photo © ANP, Robin van Lonkhuisen
Following the release today by the European Commission of its 2016 country-specific reform recommendations, BUSINESSEUROPE Director General Markus J. Beyrer commented: "In recent years our members have indicated that whilst the Commission has generally made the right reform recommendations, the problem has been a lack of implementation by EU member states. Whilst we need to look at today’s country-specific recommendations in more detail, we urge governments to take the Commission’s advice seriously and use it to increase reform impetus. In particular, where the Commission has granted member states more time to reach fiscal targets, we urge them to use this wisely, looking in particular at the scope to increase the efficiency of public expenditure and reduce tax burdens."
BUSINESSEUROPE welcomes the resolution of the European Parliament with about 80 per cent of votes against an automatically conceded “market economy status” to China. BUSINESSEUROPE Director General Markus J. Beyrer said after the vote: “The resolution comes at a time when the EU decision-making process on this issue is in full swing and when full engagement in the debate from all EU institutions involved is critical. China should also be engaged. This question is not just about China, this question involves China.” The vote, supported by the EPP, S&D, ECR, ALDE and Greens/EFA groups reflects the same concerns BUSINESSEUROPE published in its position in December 2015. “For European business, it is important that the EU strives for a sound and balanced economic relationship with China. The EU should reach a decision that is in line with WTO and EU law and takes into account the remainder of Section 15 of China’s WTO accession protocol. In this context it is important that the EU maintains effective trade defence instruments that take into account the real market situation in China today and in the future.”
“I cannot question the need for growth. Growth is not an end in itself but a way of creating employment, incentivising investment, supporting redistribution, and increasing living standards. What we can question is the kind of growth we need and what mechanisms must be in place to have an inclusive growth”, Markus J. Beyrer said on a discussion panel on the need for growth. “In Europe we need to act on growth, both at the national level by implementing reforms that improve the resilience and competitiveness of economies, and at the EU level where we need smart regulation which does not harm companies – the main source of job creation”, he added. Photos - Video
National parliaments in more than one third of the EU member states have invoked a "yellow card" opposing the European Commission’s proposal to revise the EU posting of workers directive. In their reasoned opinions, these parliaments highlight legitimate concerns about this Commission proposal. They believe the proposal does not respect the subsidiarity principle and is disproportionate. BUSINESSEUROPE fully agrees that the 1996 posting of workers directive, together with the additional 2014 EU enforcement directive, provides the necessary framework to ensure the free provision of services across the EU while protecting posted workers. Markus J. Beyrer said: "We share the concerns of these national parliaments. Changing legislation would bring new uncertainty for business in Europe. It also opens yet another divisive debate among EU member states. The focus should be on fighting illegal practices and abuses through implementation of the existing rules. BUSINESSEUROPE calls on the Commission to take these concerns seriously and withdraw its proposal".
“The EU's slow economic recovery means lost ground in global markets. It would be dangerous if EU member states would allow ‘reform fatigue’ to set in”. This was a key message Emma Marcegaglia, President of BUSINESSEUROPE gave to an audience of 400 participants at BUSINESSEUROPE Day in Brussels. At the conference, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Head of the rotating EU Presidency, European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska and other top level politicians met leaders of European industry and business from all over Europe. Marcegaglia highlighted results of the new EU Reform Barometer, BUSINESSEUROPE’s survey of reform results in EU member states. In their speeches both Rutte and Bieńkowska, and other top European decision-makers, called for rapid implementation of structural reforms and highlighted the importance of the Schengen zone for business. Europe should – among other important tasks ahead – give a European answer to the migrant crisis. Photos