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NEW CHALLENGES, NEW OPPORTUNITIES


Three fields of interest for debate were identified after comparing the political priorities for 2018 put forward by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2018 and EUROCHAMBRES.

SKILLS 


A shortage of skilled staff was identified as the 2nd most significant challenge among the 50.000 respondents to the 2018 edition of the EUROCHAMBRES' Economic Survey. This reflects the accelerating pace of technological, demographic and socio-economic disruption and the knock-on effect this has on skills profiles. Anticipating and preparing for such significant transformations is crucial to the EU’s competitiveness. 

This challenge requires a multidimensional and effective response from policy-makers, educators, employers and the workforce. While education and training policy remains largely in the hands of member states, it also requires a coordinated EU-wide approach, promoting effective solutions, enhancing mobility, integrating migrants and tackling youth unemployment. 


TRADE 


The EU negotiates collective trade and investment agreements on behalf of its member states with third countries, Mercosur and Australia being notable current examples. 

Representing the interests of the world’s largest single market affords the EU negotiators a strong bargaining position at the trade negotiation table with other major global economies. This is crucial to our competitiveness given that 90% of world growth will be created outside the EU in the next 10-15 years, with 30 million jobs already dependent on EU exports. 

To maximise Europe’s economic potential, especially that of its 20 million plus SMEs, coherent EU policies and measures on international trade are needed. These should complement initiatives at member state level and within the private sector through a comprehensive and coordinated strategy of European Economic Diplomacy European.
 


FUTURE OF EUROPE


The European Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Juncker, last year presented a white paper with five scenarios on how the EU could evolve, with the aim of starting a reflection on the future direction of Europe. These scenarios include just focussing on the single market, a multispeed Europe and deeper integration. 

It’s clear that the outcome of the UK referendum was a major catalyst for this and the shock of the Brexit vote has seemingly strengthened support for the EU among the remaining member states. Opinions on the best path of course vary considerably. The debate is set to come to culminate at a summit of heads of state in Sibiu, Romania, in May 2019. 

EUROCHAMBRES has underlined the need for an EU that is fit for business, based on a solid single market and a stable, predictable economy, as reflected in its April 2018 ‘Declaration of Entrepreneurial Rights’.