During the 4th European Family Business Summit that took place in Amsterdam on the 30th of May, Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, delivered a rousing speech about how ownership of the European project must be restored.
He began his address by acknowledging that “family businesses, whether big or small, represent a model of sustainability, resilience, responsibility, and long-term business orientation”. Brexit, he noted, leaves the EU confronted with “unprecedented challenges”. Mr. Katainen insisted that the EU could not “give in to politics of intolerance and hatred” that come hand in hand with the current rise of populism. Mr. Katainen summarized the different yet overlapping scenarios in which the Union could shape its future as follows: “Carrying on with full ownership; Nothing but the Single Market; Those who want to do more do more; Doing less more efficiently; Doing much more together”.
A number of concrete plans of action, he added, such as the Investment plan for Europe, the Single Market and the Circular economy package are already taking place.
Regarding the impact of globalization on the EU, he declared that “even if the EU has greatly benefitted from globalisation overall, this means little to our citizens if these benefits are not shared fairly and evenly”; Numerous citizens are concerned with “uncontrolled migration directly threaten[in] their identities, tradition and ways of living”. Mr. Katainen stated that these concerns must be acknowledged and dealt with but that “the solution lies neither in isolationism […] nor in a laissez-faire approach”. “Instead of rule-takers we should be rule-makers”, he added. With mention of implementing new rules to impede tax evasion, social dumping or to promote domestic social policies centred on education and training, Mr. Katainen stressed the importance of family business owners’ participation in the debate. He stated: “We want the Member States, business and citizens to take better and more active ownership of Europe, to build the Europe they want. […] As owners of family business, you are well placed to know how strong and dedicated ownership combined with an ambitious vision for the future can make a difference”.
The full speech, full report of the summit, and pictures can be found through our website: