Less bureaucracy, better regulation, standing strong against protectionism and completing Economic and Monetary Union – these are some of the actions needed to shape the future of Europe. While citizens often forget about the benefits the EU brings, the European Union, with all its flaws and cracks, nevertheless remains our greatest asset. These are the main conclusions of the conference The Future of the European Union – Employers' perspectives, which took place on 21 June in Madrid, Spain.
We need a more consistent and less bureaucratic EU and we have to make an effort to stay closer to the European citizens, especially young people, underlined Jose Vincente Gonzalez, Vice-President of the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain (CEOE) in his opening speech. In his view, if we forget about European values, we will lose the EU. The future of Europe should be seen in the global context: the world order we know is being shaken up and geopolitical challenges, such as current US policy or migration flows, must be taken into account.
The European Union is lurching from crisis to crisis but especially today, when the global order we know is undergoing radical change, we must remain united and take ambitious and courageous action. Employers are a solution, not a problem – said Jacek Krawczyk, President of the Employers' Group. We should not be afraid to further develop a united Europe, of acting in unity and solidarity. Nor should we be afraid to state loud and clear what business needs in order to operate.
The debate focussed on two aspects of the future of the EU – the internal market and Economic and Monetary Union. The panellists presented a number of concrete examples of obstacles that companies face in the internal market. These include trade issues and changing business models, as well as the regulatory environment.
The participants in the panel on Economic and Monetary Union agreed that the EMU reforms initiated after the crisis were a step in the right direction, but were too slow and not ambitious enough. The importance of digitalisation was also broadly underlined. Europe will either become fully digital or not at all – said Julio Linares, Vice-president of the Telefónica Management Board and President of the CEOE Committee on Digital Society, in his keynote speech.
The Members of the Employers' Group had also the honour of meeting Ana Pastor, President of the Congreso de los Deputados – the Spanish parliament - and of presenting her with the conclusions of the conference. The event was jointly organised by the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain (CEOE) and the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee.