Key areas of interest to European employers' organisations for 2019 include strengthening the internal market; the EU budget; open markets; sustainable living; and Brexit. On 20 March, representatives of EUROCHAMBRES, EuroCommerce and Copa-Cogeca met with members of the Employers Group to discuss the issues they were going to focus on this year.
Arnaldo Abruzzini, Chief Executive Officer of EUROCHAMBRES, outlined the kind of Europe the business community wished to see. He emphasised that, from an entrepreneurial point of view, a closer and more open Europe would result in lower costs for the sector.
Mr Abruzzini called for the strengthening of elements that structurally guided business in the EU - the internal market. He stressed that implementation of the single market was a cornerstone of the EU project and should therefore not be taken for granted.
Regarding the upcoming European elections, Mr Abruzzini introduced the MEP Entrepreneur Index, a unique pilot project aimed at tracking MEPs’ voting records in relation to issues of importance to entrepreneurs and thus to the creation of jobs and growth. Mr Abruzzini went on to explain that EUROCHAMBRES wished to make MEPs more accountable for how they voted on topics that were crucially important to the business community.
As regards foreign affairs, Mr Abruzzini said that the EU needed to interact with other parts of the world. He concluded by saying that the planet had been shaped by the EU's capacity to trade and invest around the world.
Paulo Gouveia, Director of Copa-Cogeca, explained the difficulties that the agricultural sector was facing, especially the issue of average farm incomes continuing to lag behind other sectors of the economy. Regarding the EU budget, he stressed that the cuts in the budget allocated to the CAP were of critical importance to Copa-Cogeca. In particular, it was pursuing the following issues: modernisation and simplification of the CAP; the bioeconomy as well as the commitments taken to ensure that SDGs were reached.
Furthermore, Copa-Cogeca was interested in the impact that trade would have on the agricultural sector. Mr Gouveia went on to say that Copa-Cogeca did not oppose trade provided it did not undermine the European agricultural sector. Concerning Brexit, he called for clarity on the issue and stressed the need for the impacts it would have on the agri sector to be minimised.
Mr Christian Verschueren, Director General of EuroCommerce, emphasised that the retail sector was undergoing major changes, resulting in changes to the skillset needed and to the shape that the retail sector in towns and cities was taking. He outlined four key priorities for EuroCommerce: the need for a data economy; fair competition; open markets; and sustainable living. Creating a data economy was important, he said, as was ensuring fair competition across supply chains. Mr Verschueren concluded by saying that, regarding trade, EuroCommerce would continue to fight against protectionism while stressing the need to maximise the benefits of bilateral trade agreements.