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Business outlook in EU improving but Single Market must be completed
AmCham EU launched its annual Agenda for Action Scorecard 2015 at a flagship event on Tuesday, 17 November 2015 in Brussels. The findings of the Scorecard, which measures the economic performance of Europe against AmCham EU’s five key action areas for economic growth, suggest that the business environment in the EU is gradually improving and that attitudes towards innovation and entrepreneurship are increasingly positive.
The event was held in collaboration with AmCham EU’s Executive Council, which comprises of 19 senior executives responsible for the European operations of some of AmCham EU’s largest member companies.
According to the report by London Economics, a UK-based consultancy, policymakers in Europe should prioritise the integration of the Single Market and enact policies that support innovation and entrepreneurship across the EU to further boost competitiveness and growth.
A highlight of the conference was the presentation of AmCham EU’s Youth Entrepreneurship Award to COOL4SEA, a Danish startup company for its innovative technology that reuses heat generated onboard ships and converts it into cooling systems, resulting in impressive environmental and economic benefits for the shipping industry.
The conference also featured a Keynote Address from Lowri Evans, Director-General of DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) at the European Commission.
The conference began with an introduction by Susan Danger, Managing Director of AmCham EU, who emphasised the importance of AmCham EU’s Agenda for Action in benchmarking the health and competitiveness of the economy and identifying future opportunities for growth in Europe.
Karl Cox, Chair of AmCham EU, then gave a more detailed overview of the Agenda for Action and its five key action areas for growth: Building skills for the future; Driving integration to create an attractive internal market; Embracing revolutionary change for industrial leadership; Developing new models of innovation and entrepreneurship; and Leading by example towards global integration.
This overview provided the context for the presentation of the Scorecard by London Economics. Their research demonstrated that the EU in the past year has made progress in building a more skilled workforce, encouraging innovation and adapting to the pace of a digital, globalised world. This was illustrated by the Scorecard’s composite indicator measuring Europe’s economic performance which reached its highest ever level since the scorecard began.
Nevertheless, the findings of the study found that there are still skills and technology gaps in many EU countries and investment in Europe has still not reached pre-crisis levels, suggesting that further policy integration in Brussels is needed. In particular, policymakers in Europe should prioritise the integration of the Single Market and enact policies that support innovation and entrepreneurship across the EU.
This presentation, which was followed by a short Q & A session with members of the audience, led into a business panel session, titled: “Accelerating European competitiveness: How can we foster innovation and entrepreneurship to deliver growth?” Moderated by Paul Hofheinz, President and Co-Founder of the Lisbon Council, the panel featured Daniel Buhl Nielsen, Founder, COOL4SEA and winner of the AmCham EU Youth Entrepreneurship Award 2015; Eva Paunova, Member of the European Parliament for Bulgaria and the EPP group; and Eric Peeters, Vice-President, Emulsions, Blends and Powders, at Dow Corning and a member of AmCham EU’s Executive Council.
The panel, which brought together interesting insights from government, business and the media, discussed the importance of boosting jobs and growth in Europe and increasing opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the EU. Mr Nielsen in particular highlighted the difficulties for start-ups in Europe to find the resources required to start a business.
Christian Morales, Chair of the AmCham EU Executive Council, then gave an overview of the AmCham EU Youth Entrepreneurship Award, which is organised in collaboration with JA Europe. The prize recognises a start-up enterprise in Europe that has demonstrated an innovative business concept and strategy, entrepreneurial attitude and potential for growth in its sector. Presented by Mr Morales and Lowri Evans, the Youth Entrepreneurship Award was presented to COOL4SEA.
Director General Lowri Evans then gave the keynote address, in which she identified a number of innovative policy approaches to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the EU. The importance of completing the EU Single Market, new Commission initiatives to boost the services sector in Europe, and the opportunities presented by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement were key highlights of her speech.
To conclude the event, AmCham EU’s Managing Director Susan Danger underlined the important priorities identified by the Scorecard and in the discussions during the event, before inviting guests to enjoy a light networking reception.