European Business Summit 2014 : The Sting Report, Day II – Business, Politics and EBS 2015

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Following the Sting’s report on Day I of the European Business Summit 2014, the report of the second day of Brussels’ most prominent conference is following here. As expected, the second day, full of back to back, even simultaneous, sessions all day long, was more interesting than Day I and gave us a glimpse of how European economy will look like in 5 years from now.

The European Sting was always present at the most important sessions to collect and share with its influential readers critical information regarding new European insights and guidelines provided by politicians, companies, think-tanks and academics.

Plenary : How Does Europe Win the Global Race?

The day started at the room Arenberg where the plenary took place called: “How Does Europe Win the Global Race?” Sean Klein, journalist and Former Brussels/Bureau Chief for BBC was the moderator of this session. A distinguished panel was comprised by Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market & Services, Jean Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, Kris Peter, Minister-President of Flanders/Vanguard Initiatives, Holger Schmieding, Chief Economist at Berenberg Bank and Markus J. Beyrer, Directeur General BUSINESSEUROPE.

The plenary began with the speech of Michel Barnier. The Commissioner of Internal Market and Services presented the situation of Europe as it is today. As Mr José Manuel Barroso did one day before, Michel Barnier explained to the assembly that crisis is behind us and Europe was able to face this dreadful situation with a high level of commitment. Despite the high level of youth unemployment, around 12%, we noticed some signs of hope; the Euro itself and the Greek economy did not collapse; we can even forecast a modest growth for this year; in addition we confirm the stability is back to Ireland and Spain and finally it has to be noted that consumer confidence went up in Italy. Those were the majour points of Mr Barnier at the plenary.

Then Kris Peter and Marcus Beyrer agreed with the points raised by Michel Barnier and José Manuel Barroso, explaining at the audience today in a very optimist spirit that there is no recession anymore and that Europe actually needs the crisis to improve in certain areas. Kris Peter addressing the entrepreneurs said: “We need industries, which is the key factor of the growth”. Moreover, Marcus Beyrer explained that Europe has not lost the game during the crisis. Accodring to Mr Beyrer, today we need a strong Europe in order to be competitive in the international market. We built this Europe during the crisis and we are ready to win the global race, he believes.

Later, Jean Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, underlined that the budget of European Research has significantly increased. Europe has the material to succeed in industrial leadership while research development is well organised and is a place for innovation. With those instruments Europe can be stronger and competitive globally. (The president of Research would also like to take the example of the Chinese Model regarding innovation. Chinese government relies on new generation of researchers to be competitive in international market). I don’t know if I should mention it. Finally the session concluded with a few questions from the assembly.

Among the questions asked, it is worth noting here the one made by the representative of the top management of Publicis who raised a question regarding the difficulty of merging activities between European and International Companies, in order to exchange knowledge and be more competitive in the international market, like the situation of Alstom. He argued : “Don’t you think, there is too much austerity in Europe?”

Speakers concluded saying that the European Commission will and should allow a merger only if there is no impact for European customers.

2nd Session: Financing the Economy, the Role of the Banking Union

The second “rendez-vous” of the day was given at the room Europe where the role of the the Banking Union was discussed. The moderator of the session was Rebecca Christie, European Correspondent for Bloomberg. A distinguished panel was comprised by personalities like Jonathan Faull, Director General for Internal Markets and Services/European Commission, James C. Cowles, Chief Executive Officer fot EMEA at CitiGroup, Philippe Lamberts, MEP and André Sapir, Senior Fellow at Bruegel.

The creation of Banking Union is one the financial “instruments” announced by José Manuel Barroso the day before.This program is used to ensure the high-quality supervision of banks and to break the links between failing banks and indebted governments.The European authority’s position is that there would not be a credibility issue during the crisis if the Banking Union had existed.

I would like to interestingly quote here Jonathan Faull who mentioned: “Today we are paying for a huge mistake done… banks will pay”…“We have to develop a capital market alternative… Liquidity should flow into industries”. “We should put in place regulatories barriers to build a confident market”.

The mechanism of the Banking Union is used to hold a single market inside Europe in order to avoid any local discrepancies.To finish the session, the panel explained the goal of FTT (Financial Transaction Taxes) which is the tax paid by investors on shares, bonds and foreign exchanges. This instrument will be used to help the European Economy grow further. Even if several financial ‘tools’ have been put in place to improve the financial situation of Europe, higher requirements than FTT will be requested from banks.

3rd Session: “How Can We Finance Innovation?”

This session called: “How Can We Finance Innovation?” was hosted at the Orange Room.

Frédéric Simon, the famous Editor & Publisher of EurActiv.com moderated the interesting discussion. We could see a diversified and rich panel which was composed by Michel Golman, Executive Director at Innovative medicines Initiative, José Zurstrassen, chairman of MyMicroInvest, Daniel Sanchez, General Partner at Nauta Capital VC Partners & Member and Venture Capital Platform Council / EVCA, Robert-Jan Smits, Director-general for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, who we had the chance to exclusively interview at our EBS pavilion right after his speech, and Thierry de Molinari, Co-founder & CFO of CO.STATION.

During the crisis, the European Commission decided to increase only the budget of Innovation. The European Commission decided to rely totally on Innovation to be the main factor of growth. The panel presented two instruments for innovation: 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.

Now, we know for sure that European Commission has cash to improve Innovation in Europe. Let’s innovate 🙂

According to Michel de Molinari, Co-founder & CFO of CO.STATION: ”The question should not be How we can finance Innovation, but How talent could meet Investors”. A lot of Investors believe in the European project. Panellists said: “We should create a framework for Innovation and a System European Model”.The collaboration between talents and investors in the Old Continent can be the majour key of success.

At the end of the session the panel explained that we should not imitate the model from the Silicon Valley; it’s not working in Europe. We have not the same instruments to succeed. It will take more time in Europe.

In short, the main message of this session was: “There is money around but it’s not a matter of money only”.

Closing Plenary: A Vision for the Next Five Years

At the end of the day, The European Sting followed the stimulating Closing Plenary called: “A Vision for Next Five Years” at the Room Arenberg.

The moderator and host of the discussion was Sean Klein, Journalist & Former Brussels Bureau Chief for BBC. Distinguished panelists were invited to put a closure to the 12th European Business Summit; Michele Sionen, President of FEB and CEO at Sionen Industries, Hannes Swoboda, President of S&D Group at the European parliament, who we had the chance to exclusively interview at our EBS pavilion right after his speech,  Markus J. Beyrer, Directeur-General of BUSINESSEUROPE, Guy Verhfstadt, President of ALDE Group, European parliament and Valdis Dombrouskis, Former Prime Minister of Latvia & Representative of EPP.

The debate was focused on the vision of Europe in the next five years. The panel provided us with some recommendations for a strong Europe. According to them, the recovery of Europe is slower than other countries. The single market should be developed and we certainly need recognition from other countries.Moreover, it was said that to reinforce the situation, a high budget of Innovation has been put into place. Innovation can drive the economy in creating new jobs in order to decrease the rate of unemployment in Europe, especially the rate of youth unemployment.

The European market should harmonize in order to avoid any local discrepancies. The panel agreed that: “A common set of Rules should be implemented for internal market”. Then, a question was raised by the assembly regarding the threat of the Extremist Right Party at the European parliament. Hannes Swoboda said: “We need Europe”! Let’s note here that the main directive of extremist party is to leave Europe. The president of S&D Group at the European parliament added: “We should speak simply to people and encourage them to be positive”. The Extremist Right party can use the disappointment of the people to win some votes for the European Elections.

The session closed with the speech of Michele Sionen,  President of FEB and CEO at Sionen Industries,  who agreed with the plan for the coming 5 years presented by President Barroso just one day before.The main features of this vision are: “Opening a new market for Europe, a single market, solve issues to get finance, new industries policies. All instruments are put into place to get a strong Europe.

All in all, we found the European Business Summit 2014 better and improved compared to EBS 2013. There is no doubt that in two days Europe and the European economy cannot become better. What can be done though, is to provide the input and ideas, to discuss and implement, to have a competitive European market and definitely a better Europe for its citizens. We believe that the scope of EBS 2014 was met and we look forward to a bigger and more challenging and complete European Business Summit in 2015 with a stronger presence of European media that attend it to truly challenge ideas and speakers for a stronger EU.

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