Europe's entrepreneurs call on policy makers to 'release companies' potential'
To mark the first EU Competitiveness Day on 14 November, some 100 entrepreneurs gathered in Brussels to urge senior politicians to improve conditions for business in Europe. The message was delivered to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, by the union of industrial and employers' confederations (UNICE), on behalf of Europe's business leaders. Antonio D'Amato, President of UNICE member federation Confindustria, said: 'Europe lacks growth! Our main competitors [...] the US and Japan, have increasing labour productivity rates whereas the EU is deteriorating.' Another federation president, BDI's Michael Rogowski, said: 'Industrial production and research activity are leaving Europe. If no urgent decisions are taken, Europe risks de-industrialisation.' Especially for the event, UNICE produced a manifesto for competitiveness under the banner 'release companies' potential - free Gulliver!' The organisation uses the image of the bound fictional traveller to represent a European economy being held back by various unwanted restraints. The first of these is unnecessary regulation, which UNICE would like to see streamlined. Furthermore, when drafting new business relevant legislation, a strengthened Competitiveness Council should oversee a thorough impact assessment, states the manifesto. Innovation should be stimulated through the development of coherent national research policies and better research funding from Brussels, believes UNICE. Modernising state aid rules on research and development and encouraging industry cooperation with knowledge institutions would also have a beneficial effect. The completion of Trans European Networks would boost the efficiency of the internal market, but rather than using already stretched public resources, the manifesto calls on policy makers to improve opportunities for public-private partnerships. Further action that UNICE would like to see taken includes reform of national employment regulations to make them more flexible, and completion of the Doha development agenda. UNICE President Dr Jürgen Strube underlined the need for action over rhetoric, saying: 'We need a real commitment to competitiveness among all European institutions. The European Union needs an integrated competitiveness strategy, creating space for entrepreneurial activity.'