At the end of this month, negotiations on a Post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries are due to be launched. Even if the agreement will cover three very different regions, it presents an important opportunity to reshape the relations between the EU and Africa and adapt them to the realities of the 21st century. Home to a relatively young population of 1.2 billion people and some of the world’s fastest growing economies, Africa is a vibrant continent that presents tremendous business opportunities. Read more
Following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Joint and Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, which was announced on 8 May, the first wave of U.S. sanctions against Iran will be re-imposed on 7 August. More information on these measures, including a detailed list, can be accessed here. In a letter addressed to the Austrian Presidency and the EU Commission, BusinessEurope stresses its support to the JCPOA, while urging for effective protection of EU companies that will face the extraterritorial effects of U.S. sanctions. In particular, the letter focuses on the EU Blocking Statute Regulation, raising questions on its practical implementation and requesting the timely publication of Guidelines addressed to national competent authorities and economic operators. See the letter here.
Recent official data indicate that growth is slowing down in the first half of 2018. Eurostat reported that EU quarterly GDP grew by 0.4% in both the first and second quarter of this year, a clear slowdown from the very strong 0.6 to 0.7% quarterly growth during 2017 (see chart). EU growth thus returned to a pace last seen in Q3 2016. Against this background, we urge policy-makers to continue implementing labour and product market reforms as well as institutional reforms that make EU economies more productive and resilient. Doing so will increase the EU’s potential for long-term growth and job creation. Given signs of emerging supply constraints, it is particularly important to address structural constraints to growth such as remaining barriers to investment and labour market mismatches. It is key to improve work-orientated learning for all age groups, including the promotion of digital skills, as well as reforms which encourage people to stay longer in the workforce and ensure that legal migrants are properly integrated. NB: Eurostat data for the second quarter of 2018 is based on a preliminary first estimate from 31 July.
Reacting to the results of the agreement reached between Presidents Juncker and Trump yesterday to work towards a trade agreement with zero tariff and non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies for non-auto industrial goods as well as on reforming WTO to address unfair trade practices, to refrain from new tariffs and resolve steel and aluminium tariffs and rebalancing measures, BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz commented: "Reason has prevailed. The agenda for talks between the EU and the US to de-escalate the current trade conflict is the right one. Eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment can bring benefits for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. European business is ready to give its contribution in the discussions between the EU and the US. President Juncker and Commissioner Malmström did an excellent job." Director General Markus J. Beyrer added: "The commitment to work jointly on the reform of WTO is also crucial. European business wants a level playing field with modern and effective rules. On WTO too, we are prepared to engage in the debate and bring constructive proposals to improve the world trading system."
On 12 July, BusinessEurope member federations together with guests from European associations and institutions, gathered in Château Sainte-Anne in Brussels to thank the outgoing President Emma Marcegaglia and welcome her successor, President Pierre Gattaz. During his first intervention as President of BusinessEurope, Pierre Gattaz stressed that we might be at a turning point concerning Europe’s future and place in the world. “Companies are the keystone to build a stronger Europe, a more united Europe, an open Europe, a human Europe. Defending our European Union is a worthy cause”, said Pierre Gattaz. In his keynote speech, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, warmly thanked Emma Marcegaglia for her commitment to defending free trade and European values and welcomed the similarity of the European vision of President Gattaz. Read the speeches of Emma Marcegaglia and Pierre Gattaz.
Austria has taken over the EU Presidency from Bulgaria on 1 July, at a critical moment for the EU. BusinessEurope sent a letter to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, highlighting that with only 1 year to go until the European elections, the Austrian Presidency has a key role to play in strengthening the European Union and its economy. The 10 priorities to be pursued start with a strong call on the Austrian Presidency to continue promoting an ambitious trade agenda while responding to unilateral protectionist measures in a balanced and smart way. The Presidency should also support efforts to have a withdrawal agreement on Brexit that includes transition, ready for the October European Council and to bring clarity regarding future relations. The Austrian government should ensure progress with discussions on the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and foster agreement on the next Multi-annual Financial Framework before the EP elections. Our letter
Today BusinessEurope published a detailed explanation on the various customs implications of Brexit and the solutions that business requires to mitigate the impact on their operations. The analysis addresses a multitude of customs issues related to import and export procedures, processing, transit and regulatory matters. Director General Markus J. Beyrer commented: “Brexit could result in a myriad of costly customs procedures, non-tariff barriers and regulatory issues, dependent on the type of the future EU-UK relationship. In our analysis we show that every degree of divergence from EU membership creates additional economic barriers. We highlight numerous customs-related concerns and offer our views on how these are best addressed. We now call on negotiators on both sides to take them into account and deliver the outcomes that businesses urgently need.” Read more