UNICE urges IGC to prioritise competitiveness

In its opinion on the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference, issued on 30 April 1997, UNICE expresses its concern about the perceived lack of importance attached to improving the competitiveness of European companies in the current proposals for Treaty revision.

In its recently published opinion on the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) underlines the need for the negotiating parties to "place a strengthening of Europe's competitiveness at the heart of the (new) Treaty, since promotion of competitiveness is the sine qua non to increase employment". The promotion of employment can, according to UNICE, never be treated in isolation. While European employers have repeatedly pronounced themselves in favour of the Essen employment strategy, they are keen to underline that responsibility for employment policy must continue to lie primarily with the member states.

UNICE's opinion is based on a comparison of its demands, as expressed in its contribution to the IGC dated 15 March 1996 and its open letter dated 23 September 1996 to the then President of the European Council, John Bruton, with the proposals currently on the table for Treaty revision (EU9704117F), notably the Irish draft Treaty and the Dutch addendum.

UNICE expresses its unease at what it perceives to be the current failure of the IGC to take account of the concerns which European companies regard as urgent and determinant for the future of European integration.

Besides the increasing focus on increasing competitiveness, UNICE lists the following concerns:

  • the single market must be completed and consolidated, namely by maintaining the openness of public services to competition, preventing the appearance of new barriers to trade and the implementation of Economic and Monetary Union;
  • the IGC must strengthen the role of the EU in its external economic relations to ensure that European can play its due role on the international stage; and
  • the Union's institutions must work effectively, transparently and responsibly by putting into place a simpler and higher quality regulatory framework. The systematic use of impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis is imperative when framing future legislation.
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