Up to recently, BUSINESSEUROPE was known as UNICE (the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe, its acronym derived from its French name – Union des confédérations de l’industries et des employeurs d’Europe). The organisation has endeavoured, since its establishment in 1958 – the year the Treaty of Rome came into force – to foster solidarity between its member organisations, to encourage a Europe-wide competitive industrial policy, and to act as a spokesperson body to the European institutions. The change of name to BUSINESSEUROPE in January 2007 was a way to celebrate fifty years of representing European employers in the private sector, and an opportunity to re-emphasise its commitment to Europe.
Initially, the six founding Member States of the European Community were all represented in the eight founder-member federations of UNICE: BDI and BDA (Germany), CNPF (France), Confindustria (Italy), FEDIL (Luxembourg), FIB (Belgium), VNO and FKPCWV (the Netherlands). The Federation of Greek Industries was accepted as an associate member. Today BUSINESSEUROPE has 39 members based in European Union Member States, the European Economic Area, and some central and eastern European countries.
Its structure consists of two tiers. The Council of Presidents,which meets at least twice a year, represents the first tier and is composed of the presidents of each of the national member federations. This group elects among themselves a president and vice-presidents and is responsible for BUSINESSEUROPE’s general strategy. The second tier, the executive committee, is composed of the director-generals of each of the member federations. The executive committee, supported by the executive bureau (made up of representatives of the federations from the five largest countries and five smaller countries by rotation and the country currently holding the EU Presidency), has the task of translating the Council’s strategy into practice and monitoring its implementation. Besides these core structures, BUSINESSEUROPE has set up seven specialised policy committees; these in turn oversee about 60 working groups. Unlike the ETUC, its trade union counterpart, BUSINESSEUROPE does not include sectoral employer organisations.
Apart from the public sector employer organisation CEEP, BUSINESSEUROPE is the leading employer organisation participating in the European social dialogue. However, since 1998 it also consults the European Union of Crafts and Small and Medium Enterprises (UEAPME) prior to taking public positions on behalf of the employer group in negotiating meetings. BUSINESSEUROPE’s Social Affairs Committee prepares BUSINESSEUROPE’s mandate for social dialogue, which is then adopted by a consensus decision of the Council of Presidents. The Social Affairs Committee is a consultative body consisting of persons nominated by BUSINESSEUROPE’s member organisations.
The voice of European employees in the private sector, BUSINESSEUROPE is committed to a mission plan consisting of 6 points:
- Implement the reforms for growth and jobs.
- Integrate the European market.
- Govern the EU efficiently.
- Shape globalisation and fight all kinds of protectionism.
- Promote a secure, competitive and climate-friendly energy system.
- Reform European social systems in response to the challenges posed by globalisation.