October 19, 2016

The European Union faces historic challenges – can we fix it?

Dr. Josef Negri, Manfred Weber MEP, Bertram Brossardt, Hervé Le Jeune, State Minister Ilse Aigner, Miklós Horvát, Denis Simonneau, Monika Rühl and Victor Campdelacreu (from left to right)

The European Union (EU) is experiencing the most difficult period in its history. Following the debt crisis and the refugee crisis, the UK’s vote to leave the EU came as a further shock.

Polls show that people’s trust in the EU institutions is diminishing all over Europe, while populists and extremists are increasingly gaining ground. This dangerous development threatens to overshadow the important challenge the EU needs to overcome in securing jobs and prosperity.

In September 2016, the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) organized a conference in Munich together with senior decision-makers and representatives to discuss the state and future of the EU.

The EU’s importance for Bavaria – and vice versa

"Bavaria's strong industry benefits Europe. At the same time, Bavaria, as an industrial powerhouse and export country, needs a successful and potent Europe, capable of acting. The EU must focus on its most important goals: growth, employment and prosperity for its members", said vbw CEO Bertram Brossardt. "Secure external borders and the safeguarding of the Schengen area, as well as overcoming uncertainties related to the Brexit and a continuation of the austerity and reform course must be among the maxims of today's EU policy. The EU must not be endangered any further by stagnation or over-regulation. We need a better Europe that recollects its assets and regains the trust of its citizens and economy."

Europe’s political and economic perspectives

In addition to the refugee crisis and looming Brexit, Ilse Aigner, Minister for Economic Affairs, refers to the zero interest-rate policy and tax cut for medium-sized businesses as the most important fields of action.

She was joined by Manfred Weber, Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the conservative European People’s Party Group, who urged national politicians to take on responsibility for their country’s policies instead of solely holding Brussels for account.

Dr. Guntram Wolff, Director of the renowned economic research institute Bruegel, advocated a soft Brexit in exchange of UK concessions to the EU like free movement of labor for EU members.

Making the voice of European business heard

Brossardt’s call for a stronger and more dynamic Europe was echoed by the leaders of business associations from Brittany, Catalonia, South Tyrol and Switzerland who also attended the event. The regional representatives emphasized the increasing importance of the regions in the process of mediating between the people and the EU.

It became clear that only an economically successful EU can counter populism and guarantee social peace.

Please download the vbw’s position paper on the importance of the EU in German here .


Dagmar von Bohnstein

vbw Gremienbetreuung, Bundes- und Europaangelegenheiten

Dagmar von Bohnstein