The grim reality of recession will demand a tribute in terms of jobs lost, it will also hamstring our capacity for innovation, and waste the potential for creativity of the coming generations, said participants of the conference on "The role of European investments for companies and employment in the future financial perspectives" held yesterday in the European Economic and Social Committee. The challenges that lie ahead can only be beaten through a strategy jointly agreed at EU level, they concluded.
European employers, convening for a meeting organised jointly by UEAPME, or the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, EUROCHAMBRES and BUSINESSEUROPE, call for the 2020 strategy to be implemented rapidly, drawing on the EU budget, financial engineering and private capital as well as national resources.
"This is the only strategy which will enable us to do more while spending less", said Henri Malosse, President of the EESC Employers' Group. The conference identified priority areas where policy action should be focused.
The education sector must be tackled first, reinforcing mobility programmes, encouraging the creation of European university poles of excellence, and developing skills and qualifications for tomorrow's jobs.
Secondly, the challenging task of reindustrialising Europe can begin through opening up support for innovation across the EU, polling our research efforts, developing European clusters in key sectors to bring together research centres, universities and large and small businesses in European Silicon Valleys.
By providing active support for the EU's 20 million SMEs and for entrepreneurship in general, economic growth can be restored and a healthy employment outlook for young people created. Fewer than 10% of those 20 million businesses currently exploit the potential of the European market. "With an extra 10%, pointed out Henri Malosse, the growth rate of the entire EU would go up 1%".
"European entrepreneurs do not want to hear yet more messages of doom, gloom and austerity from Brussels; they want messages of confidence, recovery and hope", said Mr Malosse.
The Employers' Group is one of the three groups of the Europea Economic and Social Committee (EESC), a consultative body of the European Union. The EESC enables representatives of business organisations, trade unions, professional associations and civic groups to contribute to the framing of EU policies and decisions."