• Securing Europe’s Place in a new world order

ERT gathers in Zurich, meets Enrico Letta and Guy Parmelin

Download the full statement here.

Zurich, 27 May 2024: The European Round Table for Industry (ERT) met in Zurich yesterday and today for its annual spring plenary. The meeting, hosted by Jan Jenisch, Chairman of Holcim, brought together leaders from around 50 of Europe’s most significant industrial and technology companies with operations worldwide.

As significant employers, innovators and investors in European regions, these semi-annual meetings are the opportunity for ERT Members* to discuss some of the key themes of the moment. This meeting was honoured with an intervention by Enrico Letta, President of the Jacques Delors Institute on his recent report on the EU Single Market and by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.

As a cross-sectoral high-level forum, ERT’s focus is on the long-term industrial outlook for Europe, most pertinently the EU’s declining competitiveness against the backdrop of a shifting geopolitical landscape. Discussions at the meeting were focused on the following:

  1. EU Single Market: As the 30th anniversary of the dawn of the Single Market comes to a close, ERT wants to see renewed political investment in its improvement. As a foundation of EU unity and prosperity, ERT fully supports Enrico Letta’s call for the deepening of the Single Market. At the moment, a true European Energy Union looks increasingly urgent and key to achieving EU decarbonisation targets. Furthermore, the European Capital Markets Union would deliver much-needed new avenues of funding for European innovation, in particular for tech start-ups & scale-ups.
  2. Pursuing turnaround in Europe’s competitiveness: As the digital and green transitions advance, ERT is keen to see how Mario Draghi’s forthcoming programme on EU competititiveness will address the bloc’s contradictions. ERT has called for a much more holistic approach to its competitiveness – by bolstering investment in infrastructure and fostering pro-business regulation to enhance Europe’s appeal to investors.
  3. Innovation: With innovation now a key determinant of competitiveness, a rethink of the regulation and funding of this sector is needed – refocusing on robust IP rights and standardisation and realising the scale-up of investment-intensive innovation.
  4. Addressing the Skills gap:  ERT is a vocal supporter of the effort to build a culture of lifelong learning and reskilling in Europe – as evidenced by its reskilling programme, R4E°. With the twin transitions driving an urgent need for new skillsets, EU support for reskilling needs more volume and more resources. More investment is urgently needed in education, training and reskilling along with better co-operation between the public and private sector.
  5. Trade: Unpredictable geopolitics and the multi-faceted implications of the wars between Russia & Ukraine and Hamas & Israel continue to the deepen the complexity of international cooperation and in the dynamics between the US, China and Europe. Nevertheless, Europe must remain a longstanding defender of the multilateral rules-based system and open trade.

Competitiveness & Economic Confidence

Among the internal working groups within ERT, Dr Ilham Kadri (CEO of Syensqo and Member of ERT since 2019) will now take on the role of Chair of ERT’s Committee on Competitiveness & Innovation, following four years of excellent leadership by Dr Martin Brudermüller, outgoing CEO of BASF SE.  Dr Kadri is also taking on the role of Vice-Chair of ERT.

In addition, the results of The Conference Board’s latest independent semi-annual economic confidence survey of the CEOs & Chairs in ERT were circulated. The survey results include strong signals on the burden of regulation in Europe, as well as sentiment on economic confidence, investment, competitiveness and the EU-China relationship. It will be released on Wednesday this week.


Note to Editors:

* The names of the ERT Members in attendance at the meeting in Zurich are on the pages of the PDF of this statement. A full list of the membership of ERT is accessible https://ert.eu/members/