Antonio Garamendi, president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE). Borja Sánchez-Trillo (EFE)
The president of Spanish businessmen, Antonio Garamendi, opened the doors of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) this Friday to the acting president of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, so that he could present at the employers’ headquarters the strategic proposal to strengthen the economic security and global leadership of the European Union, of the Spanish presidency of the European Union. The business leader thanked Sánchez for this “first-time” presentation and, especially, that it was at the Madrid headquarters of the CEOE.
Although this gratitude has not been without claims to the design of European policies in economic matters. Among the demands mentioned by Garamendi are: less regulation; more facilities for companies to access European funds; conclude the monetary economic union and promote the capital union; as well as deepening the single market, among other demands.
Thus, the business leader began by saying that “there is an urgent need for business competitiveness to regain centrality in the policies of the European Union, if it truly wants to strengthen its economy and guarantee its global leadership.” In fact, the president of CEOE has assured that businessmen “observe with concern the loss of economic weight of the EU” not only with respect to developing countries but also to the most industrialized states of the OECD.
At this point, he has provided some data that illustrates this loss of weight of the European economy, recalling that in 2008, the GDP of the EU was 17.2 trillion dollars compared to 14.2 trillion for the US GDP; while currently the wealth of the North American country is 25 billion dollars and that of the EU, 18.9 billion. He has also drawn attention to the fact that of the 2,500 largest global companies, 822 are American and only 362 are from the EU.
In total, Garamendi has cited seven specific business demands regarding the Spanish presidency of the European Union. The first three have been to “deepen the single market to finally achieve full free movement of goods, services, capital and people” within the EU. Secondly, he has also asked to “conclude the monetary economic union and give a boost to the capital union.” These processes are, in his opinion, “the keys for European companies to grow, have greater size and access to a more developed capital market.” That said, he has mentioned SMEs “which we always talk about, but then the policies for them are lame,” he has complained.
5,000 pages of laws
Immediately afterwards it was the turn of criticism towards what it considers “an excess of regulation that is seriously undermining the competitiveness of companies.” He has assured that in the last five years 5,000 pages of European regulation have been generated, not counting the new national, regional and local regulations in Spain.
Fourthly, he has advocated promoting innovation, an aspect in which the EU, which dedicates 2.3% of its GDP to this chapter, is also below the United States and Japan, which dedicate more than 3% to R+D+i, Garamendi has indicated. This drive for innovation, he said, does not depend only on more investment, but on a change of approach in European regulations “which suffer from excessive technological determinism and a tendency towards micromanagement,” the business leader criticized.
Regarding aid to companies, the president of the Spanish business community has recommended to the community authorities “not to enter into an international competition for subsidies that would be dramatic for the EU; “but they do make it easier for companies to access existing funds.”
Finally, Garamendi has also pointed out the need for European authorities and companies to address the knowledge and skills gap in the labor market which, in the face of new jobs, requires continuous and permanent training, especially in the midst of the green and technological transition. And, lastly, it has urged the EU to conclude the signing and implementation of the world trade organization agreements and strengthen bilateral agreements, with the aim also of diversifying European supply chains: “The EU does not “It can afford autarkic theses given its great dependence on energy and raw materials from abroad,” he said.
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