Group I Internal Newsletter March 2012

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“Group I Internal” is the newsletter of the Employers’ Group of the EESC and is published after every Plenary Session. Each edition features an editorial by Henri Malosse, the Group’s President, on a current issue. It also presents the points of view of several Members, as well as the activities of the Group and its Members since the previous Plenary Session.

You can also find the document containing the New Study Groups that were formed during the last Plenary Session, and the Members of the Employers’ Group who participate in them.

The Employers’ Group (Group I) has 114 members, and is made up of entrepreneurs and representatives of entrepreneur associations working in industry, commerce, services and agriculture in the 27 Member States of the European Union. These are women and men involved in the business world and in touch with the realities of everyday life who are willing to put their experience to use to further the European venture.

Our goal is to promote European integration by supporting the development of our businesses, which play a key role in fostering the prosperity of our societies and in creating jobs.

In an economically difficult climate, the European Economic and Social Committee is the only European institution that brings together business people and people fully engaged in the economic and social life of their home country.

A strong, coherent and dynamic Employers’ Group is therefore crucial to making the voice of business heard at European level.

Naturally, the Employers’ Group also works closely with the five major European business organisations – BUSINESSEUROPE, CEEP, EUROCHAMBRES, EuroCommerce and UEAPME – to which a large number of our members also belong.

Most of the increasingly rapid changes in today’s
world are not to the advantage of the EU. 2011
was very challenging for Europe. The Euro zone
sovereign debt crisis placed severe questions on
European unity and integration, whilst the ‘Arab
Spring’ was a profound test for the EU’s diplomatic
External relations are of high importance to European
1. Most economic growth is now taking
place outside the EU, notably in the markets of
emerging and developing countries: 40% of global
economic growth comes from Asia.
2. A key challenge for European SMEs
comes from internationalisation. SMEs comprise
99% of all European companies but only 13%
are internationally active outside the EU
through trade, investment and other cooperation.
3. Outside Europe there is poor understanding
as to how the EU functions. This is further exacerbated
by deep concern as to its economic situation
- Europe’s recent preoccupation with its internal
problems has made it a decreasingly important
partner at the global level. Our main challenge
now is how to improve the marketing
of Europe, its economy and culture
globally. Increasing the EU’s competitiveness
around the world is also essential – a large
amount of EU growth and jobs increasingly
rely on exports and successful
trade and investment.

How can the EESC Employers´ Group
best contribute to this process?

The Employers´ Group of the EESC has established
an External Relations Network,
which aims to improve coordination and
strategic planning, and complements the activities
of the EESC’s external relations Section.
It operates as a strategic forum by
bringing together the Group’s members who
are both interested and active in the field of
external relations. Among its goals are to
promote the EU itself, to restore confidence
in European economy and businesses, and to
improve its external image, including that of
the EESC.
Among the highest ranking needs for
European companies are: better access
to key developed and emerging markets,
returning the European Single
Market to a globally attractive destination
again, and improved coordination
and cooperation across the EU in external
We are therefore renewing contacts with
our counterparts all around the world and
with EU business representative organisations
abroad. Special attention will now be
paid to North Africa and the Middle East in
order to support democratic stabilisation
and to assist civil society organisations, especially
business representative organisations

It is our conviction that better functioning dialogue between
the three Groups of the EESC and their respective
counterparts in partner countries will increase the importance
of civil society and specifically of the EESC’s role to
carry its voice.
We cooperate closely with the EU level business organisations
(BUSINESSEUROPE, CEEP, Eurochambres, Euro-
Commerce, UEAPME, BIAC) and with third country business
representative organisations to the EU. We have also
strengthened links with other EU institutions, including
the EEAS – more effective economic diplomacy is key.
Our companies need a quality business support
service, SMEs in particular need more assistance in:
• entering key new markets (such as China),
• coping with disadvantaged positions in third markets,
• minimising the risks due to inadequate IPR protection,
• access to energy and raw materials,
• coping with non-tariff barriers and legislative issues in
third countries,
• improving export capacity.
There is also a need to stimulate better synergy between
EU delegations and business organisations
abroad. They can only promote and protect EU business
interests if they cooperate better.
Companies from smaller Member States have to look for
greater assistance from the European support structures
since their own national business representative structures
coverage abroad is necessarily limited.
We should re-examine the many existing EUfunded
business support instruments, (Enterprise
Europe Network, EU Business Support Centres, SME Centres
abroad …), services and programmes (e.g. EU
Gateway and Executive Training Programmes in South Korea
and Japan) in order to sharpen their relevance to the
needs of clients/participants. We also need to increase
the awareness among entrepreneurs about what
various networks and support services are available.
Since lack of knowledge about other business cultures is a
major reason for failure in a foreign market, it is important
to organise joint events, such as the Conference on “Active
Ageing and New Opportunities for Business in Europe and
Japan” held in March 2012 at the EESC.
Finally, to equip European companies, especially SMEs, with
the skills necessary in this multicultural world we also need
continue to develop student exchanges in technical and
research areas with a mandatory internship component
(such as the EU-Japan Vulcanus programme). The recently
signed EU-Brazil joint declaration for facilitation exchange
of young professionals is another very promising development.


Group I Debate with Daniel Calleja Crespo on the
European Commission’s policies for SMEs, 22 February
On 22 February 2012, Henri Malosse, President of the
Employers’ Group of the EESC hosted a debate on the
European Commission’s policies for SMEs with
Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General of DG Enterprise
and Industry at the European Commission. Mr.
Calleja Crespo presented the major policies for
growth, particularly:
• support to innovation,
• SME financing,
• the strategy of industrial sectors
• and reduction of administrative formalities
for businesses.
“My goal is to enable citizens to create a business
in the EU in less than three days”, said Mr. Calleja
Crespo, who was named SME Envoy by Commission Vice
President Antonio Tajani. As such, he would be responsible
for communication between the EC and SMEs, as well
as promote the interests of SMEs (including “Think Small
First”) throughout the Commission.


Ageing populations and falling population rates
pose two of the greatest challenges faced today by
both Japan and the EU. In Europe 16% of people
are now aged 65 or over, whereas in Japan this
figure has reached 22.9%.
During 2012, the European Year of Active Ageing and
Intergenerational Solidarity, given the fact that Japan appears
to be a couple of decades ahead of Europe in terms
of fiscal, social and economic ‘experience’, it is vitally important
to exchange best practices with Japan to examine
the challenges posed by an ageing population and how
best these can be met by businesses and other interested
To enable an essential exchange of best practices and
share experience, the
Employers’ Group of the
European Economic and
Social Committee, together
with the EU-Japan
Centre for Industrial Cooperation
and the EU
Institute in Japan Kansai,
organised a conference
entitled “Ageing Populations
and New Opportunities
for Businesses
in Europe and
Japan” on 15 March
The event was hosted by
the President of the Employers’
Group, Mr.
Henri Malosse, following
the initiative of Ms Eve
Päärendson, Employers’ Group Vice President in charge
of external relations, and President of the EESC Contact
Group on Japan.
The opening by Ambassador Norio Maruyama from the
Mission of Japan to the EU was followed by presentations
from speakers, including European stakeholders
and enterprises, Japanese authorities, companies and
research institutions.
Some key points in the presentations included:
- statistics show that Japan will feel the ageing issue
more sharply than Europe; by 2030 elderly people will
represent 23.7% (1:4 people) in the EU and 31.8% (1:3)
in Japan.
- an extra year of healthy life expectancy increases the
wealth of the whole society and so positively impacts
job creation; elderly people create business opportunities
for the healthcare, labour, tourism, financial services,
ICT, robotics, and nutrition sectors
- ageing populations can benefit firms by being a driver
of innovation,
- staff-related challenges
connected to
elderly workers can be
tackled by innovative
solutions to retain elderly
people in work
and increase their productivity
- structural change
would continue for the
next decade: whilst the
primary sector is likely
to lose 2million jobs,
there will be increases
in employment levels in
services (up 6million)
distribution and transp
or t a n d n on -
marketed services.
- to stimulate the stagnated
economy, the Japanese Government introduced
fiscal and monetary policies, but in vain; market deregulations
and public sector reforms (e.g. privatisation of
the Post and Highways) were also introduced, but were
not always sufficient. What is needed is more stable and
strong government.