By Stefano Mallia, President of the EESC Employers' Group

The first six months of 2023 are the right time to push for a competitiveness agenda to be made a top priority for the EU.

2022 has been an annus horribilis for Europe. At a time when Russia has brought war back to the European continent, assumptions and expectations of a lasting peace have been shattered in the wider European space.

One thing is crystal clear: without peace, there can be no prosperity. The Employers’ Group has been fully supportive of EU action to assist Ukraine in its time of need and to start work on rebuilding Ukraine, even before the war is over.

While we continue to invest energy in helping Ukraine, however, we have also continued in 2022 to push for the EU's recovery. We have been assertive in our work for the Conference on the Future of Europe to call for a more decisive focus on competitiveness, by establishing the good practice of having a competitiveness check to build a stronger and more resilient economy. The Commission and the EU presidencies have been very receptive to this call and that instrument is now being prepared. More importantly, it is becoming increasingly clear to all that the EU must adopt a Competitiveness Agenda that centres on the sustainability and strength of enterprise. Only in this way can we guarantee a heathy society in which we can afford to provide citizens with a good quality of life.

Looking towards 2023, we need to maintain the sense of urgency. We must step up efforts to develop an ambitious and forward-looking agenda that takes due account of the needs and concerns of business. The current situation calls for a number of fundamental objectives:

  • Competitive access to the factors of production (energy, raw materials, labour, capital and data)
  • Realise the full potential of the Single Market and its freedoms, by creating a fully-fledged Digital Single Market.
  • Ensure that open and rules-based foreign trade is made another pillar of the EU economy.
  • The green and digital transition - which we strongly support - must be achieved in a cost-effective way that fosters entrepreneurship and innovation

The first six months of 2023 are the right time to push for the competitiveness agenda to be made a top priority. In a world rife with uncertainty, there is one thing we can be sure of: without a prosperous and competitive Union, the social wellbeing of our society is at serious risk.

Read the full article here. (dv/kr)