The 5th European Family Business Summit took place on the 6th of November in Brussels and was entitled “The New Europe: The Family Business Perspective”

Over 100 family businesses entrepreneurs from 18 European countries attended this event to discuss the most pressing issues facing Europe and family business alike.  Topics such as Sustainability, digital and technology, debt vs equity and the transfer of business were all brought up during the day

In the opening keynote, Commissioner Oettinger (Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources), underlined the importance of business transfers in family-run companies and stated that the EU must do more to support family businesses.

In the first panel, devoted to NextGen female leadership, Ms. Dlabajová (MEP), noted that the dialogue between politicians and the business community must improve.  Ms. Domínguez (CEO of Alberto Dominguez) suggested to think long-term and outside Europe, while Ms Fluxá (á (Vice-Chairman and Chief Sustainability Office, Iberostar Group) focused her interventions on her (and her company’s) priority towards a more sustainable approach to business.

In the second panel, devoted to the rise of digital, Mr. Onetti (Chairman of Mind the Bridge) defined the new modus operandi for companies and the fundamental element that any company needs to stay alive. Ms Ezpeleta (Acciona) encouraged the audience of “not being afraid of taking risks and be ready to fail”, while Mr. Villax stated that “governance is more geared towards making sure that the company works well than towards change”, underlining the importance of change and the danger of legacy, defined “the biggest enemy of innovation”.

In his presentation Jacques Berghmans (co-founder TreeTop Asset Management), explained clearly the advantages of investing in the stock market, whose investors have reached very strong returns in the last century.

The last part of the conference was opened by Mr. De Schutter (Partner and Head of Family Owned Businesses Belgium KPMG), who presented the results of the latest Family Business Barometer, that shows a general confidence of the European family businesses about the future.

During the last panel, Mr. Aminoff (Chairman, Finnish Family Firms Association) stated that “equity is the mother of all finances” and should be treated as such by policy makers, while Mr. Haspeslagh (Chairman, Ardo) noted that family business should be aware that the world is going towards more transparency and be prepared to act consequently.