The European Round Table of Industrialists was formed in 1983, a time when competitiveness was hard to maintain in fragmented European markets. The European economy had been plagued by rising inflation, soaring unemployment and declining growth. The commitments contained in the Treaty of Rome of 1958 remained unfulfilled and the European Council seemed unable to take decisive action.
With the active support of Etienne Davignon and François Xavier Ortoli, then Members of the European Commission, Pehr Gyllenhammar of Volvo, Wisse Dekker of Philips and Umberto Agnelli of Fiat decided to mobilise a group of leading industrialists to create a basis for truly European economic cooperation. In their view, what was needed was more concerted and decisive action at European level and a removal of all barriers to a truly single market.
Jacques Delors, past President of the European Commission (1985-1995) and one of the key advocates of the Single Market, has publicly recognised the important role played by ERT in this area.
From the start, ERT Members made plain that they would work to identify practical problems and suggest solutions.
A series of ERT reports have over the years contributed to an improved dialogue on European competitiveness between industry and policy-makers at both national and European levels.
A group of 17 businessmen came together to launch the European Round Table of Industrialists in Paris on 6-7 April 1983.
From left to right (top): Karl Beurle (Thyssen), Carlo De Benedetti (Olivetti), Curt Nicolin (ASEA), Harry Gray (United Technologies), John Harvey - Jones (ICI), Wolfgang Seelig (Siemens), Umberto Agnelli (Fiat), Peter Baxendell (Shell), Olivier Lecerf (Lafarge Coppée), José Bidegain (Cie de St Gobain), Wisse Dekker (Philips).
From left to right (bottom): Antoine Riboud (BSN), Bernard Hanon (Renault), François-Xavier Ortoli (EC), Pehr G. Gyllenhammar (Volvo), Etienne Davignon (EC), Louis von Planta (Ciba-Geigy), Helmut Maucher (Nestlé).
The publication "ERT Highlights" gives an overview of the development and achievements of the ERT and includes a chapter devoted to the legacy of each ERT Chairman. Click the visual below to download the full publication.