by Jesus Casado, Secretary General of EFB
In the last two months the EU institutions have completely renewed their composition for the next cycle. In spite of a growing wave of Populism and Euroscepticism, coupled with a slowdown in economic growth, there are some encouraging signs coming from this new political makeup that can give hope to the business community.
The first sign is the turnout from the EU elections. It was the highest turnout in 20 years and the first time since the 1st direct elections in 1979 that turnout has increased. Contrary to what many had predicted, Europe’s citizens showed up when it mattered.
The second encouraging sign is that the Eurosceptic parties did not perform as expected and as such, do not have a meaningful presence to block the legislative process. In such a critical moment for the EU, the Parliament must act as an effective decision-making body. Although the parliament will be more fragmented, thankfully, there is good chance that a reform agenda can be adopted.
Looking into the future priorities of the Parliament and the Commission, there seems to be an implicit recognition by the main actors that Europe needs to focus on equipping businesses with the right tools to compete globally. The international rules-based system is under attack from all sides. Even industries where Europe has been the global leader are starting to suffer. Now more than ever, we need decisive action.
For EFB there are four topics that need to be addressed during the next institutional cycle.
1. Rebalance the EU economy by promoting long-term sustainable financing;
2. Ensure that Europe’s citizens are equipped with the right skills for the future;
3. Enable SMEs to reach their full potential by going for growth;
4. Empower the next generation of entrepreneurs.
For EFB, there is no doubt that the future prosperity of Europe depends on the survival, renewal and growth of its millions of family businesses, most of which are SMEs. We need to empower them with the right framework to grow sustainably.