European Business Summit 2014: Sting Report, Day I

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It was only last week and the time for the annual most important ‘appointment’ of the European industry had come.

The rendez-vous was given at the same place as every year; the 12th European Business Summit that took place this year at the prestigious venue of the Palais d’Egmont in Brussels.

The European Sting was Media Partner of the most important conference in Europe for business and Industry. EBS every year provides a real cross – European Union dialogue, engaging numerous top business speakers with the hottest European matters. This newspaper was there to capture and share with its unique readers a glimpse of the new competitive Europe that we all want.

The organizers of the event, BusinessEurope and FEB (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium) picked the right moment for the summit. Just one week before the long awaited EU elections, European Business Leaders and high-level European politicians came together in Brussels to discuss the economic and political situation in Europe.

The 12th European Business Summit brought together last week more than 1,650 participants coming from various different backgrounds, from think tanks, academics and NGOs to representatives of civil society. Independent discussants, as well as 100 speakers and 150 journalists took part in the debate in over 15 sessions.

Day 1 – 14 May 2014

The first session to be followed by the European Sting was at the Library Room of the Palais d’Egmont where the Assembly of European Regions, represented by Miss Hande Ozsan Bozatti, President of AER, discussed about competitiveness in Europe. Mr Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy who represented the European Commission, also took part in the debate. During this session called “How Do European Regions Contribute to Competitiveness” Mr Hahn explained that Regions are the places where universities and talents meet entrepreneurial spirits, attractive lifestyles and innovative funding schemes.

Today, he said, the goal of the European Commission is to recover from the European crisis and stimulate growth. To do this, regions will be requested more than ever to be the catalysts of innovation, growth and competitiveness. They will play a key role for the next five years in creating the appropriate environment for businesses to thrive: Large companies, SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises), start-ups and entrepreneurs. Those economic agents can be actively attracted and nourished through innovative policies to boost investment opportunities and the internationalisation of regional SMEs, business benefits and an outstanding quality of life.

In this context, Mr Hahn was quiet and optimist even in times when the rate of unemployment in Europe, especially for youth, is reaching horrible levels.

Opening Plenary

Mr Stephen Fidler, Brussels Bureau Chief of Wall Street Journal, moderated the opening plenary of the European Business Summit 2014.

Many distinguished people were present at the plenary, like José Manuel Barroso, President of European Commision, Emma Marcegaglia, President of BUSINESSEUROPE and Vice Chairman & CEO of Marcegaglia S.p.A, Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Jo Deblaere, Chief Operating Officer & Group Chief Executive Europe of Accenture, Nani Beccalli- Falco CEO of GE Europe & Germany/Senior Vice President GE/President of the State of the European Union.

The official opening of the summit was initiated at Europe Room where José Manuel Barroso, President of European Commission made a summary of the last 5 years of the economic situation in Europe.

He presented all instruments that have been put into place during those five years in order to fight against the crisis.The next European Parliament, according to the President, should use those tools in order for Europe to be stronger in the international market.

As instruments he mentioned: the Banking Union, which will be used in order to avoid the failure of European banks, the HORIZON 2020 programme, which is a program of 80 billion Euros for research and development and the COSME (Competitiveness Of Small and Medium Enterprises), a programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3bn. COSME will support SMEs in the following areas: better access to finance for SMEs, access to markets, supporting entrepreneurs and more favourable conditions for business creation and growth.

After his speech, Emma Marcegaglia took the micro to list the arguments in favour of foreign investment in Europe. She also agreed with all recommendations made prior to her by the President of the European Commission.

It is true that the first day of EBS 2014 offered to its 1650 participants little food for thought as it officially only began in late afternoon. However, it did offer us a fair glimpse of what would follow during the next day, on 15 May, day II of the summit, a day that was fully booked with back to back interesting sessions.

The Sting’s report on the second day of EBS 2014 will follow shortly. Stay tuned!

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