2016 will be a tough year for the EU with numerous challenges ahead. The employers have a role to play in the current situation. The better the EU economy performs, the more the EU can focus on geopolitics or the refugee crisis. Therefore it is crucial for all employers' organisations to ensure that the business environment allows European companies to grow. These were some of the conclusions that emerged from the debate with the heads of BUSINESSEUROPE and Copa-Cogeca that took place during the meeting of the Employers' Group. The representatives of both organisations presented their priorities for the coming months.
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We are pleased to announce that Ricardo Serra Arias has joined the Employers' Group. Mr Serra Arias is the president of the Spanish farmers association ASAJA-Sevilla and ASAJA-Andalucía. He is also a vice-president of COPA-COGECA EU and a vice-president of ASAJA Nacional, with responsibility for international relations.
The fifth SME Assembly took place on 18-20 November in Luxembourg. This well-organised, high-level event brought together some 300 participants from across Europe. Amongst them were SME representatives, high-level EU officials, and representatives of NGOs, academia, media, etc.
European industry needs an environment conducive to innovative activity. We must strengthen investment in innovation and foster business dynamism. Investment is needed not only in scientific R&D but also in areas that are becoming key features of corporate success, such as design, software, data, firm-specific skills and marketing. These are some of the ideas that emerged from the conference on the Reindustrialisation of Europe: Food Manufacturing, Innovation and Circular Economy, which took place on 27 October in Milan. The event was hosted by the Employers' Group, together with Coldiretti and Confindustria.
Fostering international trade is beneficial for companies, consumers and employees. In 15 years' time, 90% of global demand will come from outside the EU. Therefore, establishing a simple and predictable trade policy should be a priority for the EU as one of the main factors in boosting growth and creating new jobs. The participants at the conference on the Role of international trade in the reindustrialisation of Europe discussed the future of EU trade policy, the role of FTAs and how to revive European industry through trade and investment. The conference took place in Milan on 26 October and was organised by the EESC Employers' Group, together with Confcommercio and AICE (Italian Association of Foreign Trade).
The Employers' Group welcomes the Commission's new trade strategy presented today by Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. "The European Commission listened closely to key concerns raised by Civil Society and the strategy represents a positive agenda for business" – stated Jonathan Peel, Member of the Employers' Group and the EESC rapporteur on the review of the EU Trade Policy.
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