Sunday, July 21, 2024

EU leaders call for strengthening the EU’s competitiveness

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At the special European Council meeting in Brussels the EU leaders discussed the importance of strengthening the competitiveness of the European Union and its Single Market. They also discussed Middle East, Ukraine and Türkiye.  

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted four major areas of action to further deepen our Single Market and transform it into a real European market:

  1. Improving access to capital for European companies
  2. Reducing the cost of energy
  3. Improving the skills of our workforce
  4. Strengthening trade with the rest of the world

Access to capital is crucial to face the challenges ahead. “We need to lower the costs for companies for capital markets and investors. Second, we need to strengthen and align supervision of the most important players. And third, give predictability to investors on topics like insolvencies”, President von der Leyen outlined.

To improve the competitiveness of EU companies we also need to further reduce the cost of energy. Despite reaching price levels similar to those before Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, they remain structurally too high. With new LNG projects becoming available as of next year and further building the capacities to produce clean energy in the EU, the prices should structurally drop.

President von der Leyen also stressed that all-time high employment (75% in 2023) and record low unemployment (6% in last December) levels pose a challenge to find workforce. “We need to train as many of our young unemployed. We need to improve women’s access to the labour market. And we need legal migration”, she said.

Fair and open trade is key to EU’s competitiveness, as a significant share of our prosperity comes from trade agreements. Thanks to the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA), last year our producers could export €4.5 billion of agri-food products, 53% more than before the agreement. We have also addressed the risks associated with free trade by taking more than 170 trade defence measures. This has protected over 500,000 jobs in the EU.

Finally, President von der Leyen also stressed the need to have a more European approach for the EU’s defence industrial base. Bearing in mind the clear national competence over the structure, deployment and training of the armed forces, the President called for the development of defence single market. This would allow for economies of scale and efficiency, better defence capabilities and higher interoperability of the national armed forces.

 

For more information

Opening remarks by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel following the meeting of the special European Council

Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister De Croo and Enrico Letta

European Council conclusions

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