• Securing Europe’s Place in a new world order

Conclusions of the ERT Plenary of European business leaders in Bilbao

BILBAO, 22 November 2021: Following several significant summits (G20, COP26) in the past weeks, the past two days saw Bilbao play host to the European Round Table for Industry’s (ERT) twice yearly meeting of business leaders.

ERT Members – all CEOs and Chairs of Europe’s best known industrial and technology companies – gathered together in person for the first time in two years, while adhering to the latest COVID restrictions.


The meeting was honoured by the company of His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain; Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s Executive Vice President; Nadia Calviño, First Deputy Vice President and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation of Spain. After the Plenary had concluded, there was also a speech by Pablo Casado, President of the Popular Party and head of the opposition.


The discussions focused on the following priority areas:

1. The EU Single Market and how the digital and green transitions demand a renewed focus on competitiveness and harmonisation of the internal market. CEOs and Chairs endorsed the release of a new publication Renewing the Dynamic of European Integration – Single Market Stories by Business Leaders1 which will be launched on 7 December as ERT’s contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

2. Climate action and how COP26 and the EU’s Fit for 55 package can set a milestone on the way to carbon neutrality2 by 2050 while maintaining Europe’s competitiveness and social fairness.

3. Digital transformation including the strategic growth of cloud & edge computing and the wider implications of the escalating evolution of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity threats.3

4. Boosting reskilling by means of a pan-European training initiative called Reskilling 4 Employment (R4E). The programme aims to enable unemployed and ‘at-risk’ workers to reskill, at a time when the job landscape in Europe is undergoing significant change. Pilots4 are being launched in Spain, Portugal and Sweden.

5. The EU’s strategy on Open Strategic Autonomy including supply chain disruption and its associated implications. This discussion was a follow-up to the launch of ERT’s flagship paper on trade5 in July of this year.

In addition, the results of The Conference Board’s independent bi-annual economic confidence survey of the Membership of ERT will also be released tomorrow.

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Notes for Editors

A full list of the Members of ERT can be viewed here. Get to know some of them in our podcast series, 21st Century Industrialists, available on all good podcast platforms.

1 For more information on the EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe, visit: futureu.europa.eu/
To find out more information about the launch of ERT’s new Single Market Stories publication,
on 7 December, contact communications@ert.eu

2 Find out more about the commitments & actions of companies led by the Members of ERT, by visiting www.industry4climate.eu

3 ERT’s paper Mapping a New World with the EU Digital Compass is available here

4 Find out more about the ERT’s Reskilling 4 Employment initiative here

5 ERT’s paper Making Open Strategic Autonomy work is available here

Just as political and diplomatic debate is best had in person, it’s important for business leaders to meet and dialogue as well. This plenary has been a welcome opportunity for ERT Members to exchange on some of the major economic and social trends at this time of accelerating green and digital transition.
Carl-Henric Svanberg
  • Carl-Henric Svanberg
  • ERT Chair and Chairman of Volvo Group
Placing decarbonisation at the centre of Europe’s strategy and allocating resources to forward looking sectors will improve the overall competitiveness of the economy and generate lasting, quality jobs. Spain, the Basque Country and Biscay are great examples of the benefits of this transformation, as confirmed in this ERT plenary.
Ignacio S. Galán
  • Ignacio S. Galán
  • Chairman and CEO of Iberdrola