19 November 2003

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FOI delegation takes part in UNICE Competitiveness Day

- European entrepreneurs demonstrate for competitiveness

Under the leitmotiv "Release companies’ potential – Free Gulliver!" over 100 entrepreneurs and business leaders from all over Europe, including a weighty delegation from Malta, came together in Brussels on 14 November for the first EU Competitiveness Day.
As a full member of the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and following its conference entitled ‘Europe – most competitive economy by 2010? – How will Malta benefit from this process?’ the Malta Federation of Industry (FOI) arranged for a high-level business delegation from Malta to participate at this important UNICE event.
The entrepreneurs and business leaders at the UNICE Competitiveness Day discussed with high-level politicians, including Italian Prime Minister Prof. Silvio Berlusconi, Commissioners Loyola de Palacio and Erkki Liikanen, French Minister of Industry Nicole Fontaine and Irish Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche, the competitiveness challenges Europe faces and necessary actions to be taken to re-launch EU economy.
UNICE also presented a manifesto on competitiveness and its annual assessment of the Lisbon strategy, which analyses the current situation and calls for progress in specific areas.
The Maltese delegation, led by FOI Deputy President Adrian Bajada who is also Operations Director of Multi Packaging Ltd., consisted of David Mifsud, Managing Director of Methode Electronics Malta Ltd and FOI Council Member; Helga Ellul, Managing Director of Playmobil Malta Ltd and FOI Council Member; Anthony Depasquale, Chief Officer of Bank of Valletta plc; Stephen Muscat, Group Chief Executive Officer of Maltacom plc; Dr Leonard Mizzi, Malta Business Bureau (MBB) Director and FOI Permanent Brussels Representative; and Janine Borg, FOI Researcher in Brussels.
Within two panel sessions, Presidents of UNICE’s member federations discussed challenges and responses to be taken to boost again European competitiveness. UNICE’s assessment clearly shows that Europe’s economy is not catching up to its main competitors and risks missing the train in the 21st century.
Antonio D’Amato, President of Confindustria said: "Europe lacks growth! Our main competitors as the USA and Japan have increasing labour productivity rates whereas the EU is deteriorating." Dr Michael Rogowski, President of German Industry Federation (BDI) continued: "Structural rigidities don’t let the space companies need to prosper, but tie them up with competitive disadvantages. Industrial production and research activity are leaving Europe. If no urgent decisions are taken, Europe risks de-industrialisation!"
UNICE identifies, and the FOI concurs, six top action points where political decision-makers have to deliver:
- Regulation: reduce existing legislation, make real impact assessment on all envisaged business relevant legislation with Competitiveness Council as a key decision body
- Public finance: continue social protection reform and reduce structural government deficits
- Innovation: stimulate R&D and promote industry cooperation with knowledge institutions
- Employment: introduce more flexibility into national labour markets
- Trans-European Networks: complete Trans-European Networks, considering more Public-Private Partnerships
- International economic relations: pursue the completion of the Doha Development Agenda in the WTO
In his conclusions, UNICE President Dr Jürgen Strube made clear: "We need a real commitment to competitiveness among all European institutions. The Lisbon strategy, aiming at making Europe the most competitive, knowledge based economy in the world by 2010, must be implemented. The European Union needs an integrated competitiveness strategy, creating space for entrepreneurial activity!"
For more information on this UNICE event, as well as the Lisbon Strategy Document and the Manifesto, which were presented during the UNICE conference, is to contact Cecilia Vella on tel: 21 234428, 21222074.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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