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NEW CHALLENGES, NEW OPPORTUNITIES


Three fields of interest for debate were identified after comparing the political priorities for 2020 put forward by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 and EUROCHAMBRES.

SUSTAINABLE EUROPE

As a result of the natural events that will take place in the years to come, the economy and society will have to take unprecedented decisions. Climate change, natural resources’ depletion, and ecosystems’ degradation are already affecting the life of many, and the impacts will accrue with time. With these challenges in mind and the right legislative framework in place, businesses in Europe have the opportunity to create long-term prosperity by rapidly innovating and providing sustainable and competitive business models, products and services, and at the same time creating a resilient framework for society.

The European Green Deal wants to bridge the gap between economic development, environmental targets and social needs of citizens, and was announced as the central pillar of the new Commission’s strategy. Based on a number of questions focusing on the needs of SMEs in the transition and together with our high-level speakers, this session will explore the challenges and developments of the current and potential future policies.

SINGLE MARKET

The Single Market made doing business across borders in the EU significantly easier over the past decades. The free movement of goods, services, people and capital made that possible. However, in practice, the picture looks different from what is taught in the textbooks. For instance, a recent EUROCHAMBRES survey shows that service providers perceive significantly more barriers in the Single Market than producers providing and selling goods.

Member States have unfortunately shown little ambition in this area in the past years, resulting in a gap between the existing rules and their effective implementation. At the same time, the rapid development of the digital economy, with the emergence of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, challenges the policy-makers to come up with effective new rules which are both consumer and business-friendly. While the economy is digitizing, it will be important that key governing principles of the Single Market are not thrown overboard.

GLOBAL EUROPE

With 90% of world economic growth which is going to be generated outside of Europe in the near future, it is essential therefore to preserve and improve an environment where trading rules are stable, transparent and fair and work for businesses of all sizes.
A strong EU trade policy which aims at gradually opening international markets for European goods, services, investment and public procurement, reducing and eliminating unjustified trade barriers in third countries and is geared towards improving multilateral trade rules, is of enormous importance for Europe.

At the same time, Europe is still punching below its weight when it comes to the implementation of its trade agreements, especially among SMEs. More efforts will thus be needed at all levels EU, national and regional to bring the benefits of trade to the doorstep of our entrepreneurs and the role of business, and Chambers in particular will be crucial.

Moreover the EU must ensure trade is fair and must enforce its rules unequivocally. To that end the EU must ensure greater coherence among trade and the EU’s wider foreign policy goals, its competition policy its development objectives, its industrial policy, as well as its sustainability objectives through a more effective and targeted European Economic Diplomacy that preserves Europe’s global competitiveness.