A manifesto for change
By OPINIONS • 13 May 2014 Last updated 15:22
We, the undersigned executives, represent and lead divisions and subsidiaries of multinational companies in Europe. Our companies play a significant role in Europe’s economic life. According to Eurostat’s data, we and our peers, foreign-controlled affiliates in the EU, represent 1.1% of the total number of businesses, but a much larger share of the total European working population (14.2%), turnover (26%) and value added (22%).
We are an integral part of the economic and social fabric of every EU member state. On a daily basis, each of us acts as Europe’s ambassador by promoting member states as well as the EU’s attractiveness for global investment. We are continually encouraging our corporations to invest in Europe. However, it has been increasingly difficult to convince the decision makers at HQ that Europe still offers a favorable business climate. In the medium term, this represents a real threat to Europe’s ability to maintain its strategic position. Our corporate offices benchmark Europe against other regions of the world and find that, in many cases, those regions provide a far more dynamic, agile and business-friendly environment.
Europe still retains a number of key strengths: the world’s number one GDP, the quality of its work force, its high level of education, the diversity of its markets, its scientific excellence and the quality of its infrastructure. Europe is a leader in strategic sectors, such as digital, health and clean-tech industries, while maintaining historic strongholds in the transportation, energy, consumer goods, aerospace, automotive and chemical sectors. Through them, Europe has a real leadership position that can be expanded. However, these strengths no longer are sufficient.
In a world that moves quicker than it does, Europe is confronted with half-hearted growth, significant levels of debt, downgraded competitiveness, and too much fragmentation and complexity. Companies are required to operate in a complex and heavy regulatory environment, one that contributes to the global image of Europe as being stuck in the past and on a continued path of decline. There is no question that we have stability and quality of life in parts of Europe that is the envy of others. But that alone is not sufficient to attract foreign investment.
In our pro-Europe initiatives, we continue to highlight the positive aspects of Europe’s progress, emphasizing that Europe is doing its best to boost growth, while implementing necessary structural reforms to enhance productivity. Yet the process is too slow and allows the skeptics to point to Europe’s weaknesses.
We firmly believe that there is an urgent need to improve Europe’s competitiveness and attractiveness by emphasizing economic stability, putting a real focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, and better aligning Europe’s industrial and service sectors with future consumer and business demands. Furthermore, Europe and its member states must do more to actively attract non-European talent to Europe’s universities and businesses as well as convince its own citizens qualified talent to remain in the region.
If European businesses are going to make the most of opportunities arising from globalization, then international barriers must be removed. The EU should therefore pursue policies and encourage its member states to increase their openness to trade and increase R&D spending jointly with the private sector. The EU and its member states must also urgently commit to ambitious reforms in relation to labor costs and flexibility, tax relief, and administrative and regulatory simplification. Further economic integration, fewer regulations and a renewed focus on education, competitive energy prices and a significant marketing effort focused on Made in Europe would go a long way to putting us on par with our main competitors and attracting future investments and resources in to Europe.
These reforms will affect not just multinational companies, but all companies – large and small – operating in Europe. With the help of EY and INSEAD, we already have identified some recommendations from discussions held at the annual The State of the European Union conference. These recommendations will help Europe become a more attractive and sustainable destination for foreign direct investment. These recommendations will again be refined at the 2014 conference in May and then shared with the current and future leaders of European institutions and member states for debate and discussion.
But actions not words, will provide a strong signal and would help us convince our HQs to choose Europe as a preferred destination for international investment. The upcoming elections and the changing of the guard at the various European institutions will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to effect change in the future state of the European Union. Let’s not miss the chance for change.
Signatories of the manifesto
• 3M (USA), Patrick Deconinck, Senior Vice-President, West Europe
• AMERICAN EXPRESS (USA), Eric Audoin, Chief Executive Officer France, Belgium, Netherlands
• AVAGO TECHNOLOGIES (USA/SINGAPORE), Jean-Marc Pesnel, Vice President Sales Europe, Middle East & Africa
• BAIN & COMPANY (USA), Olivier Marchal, Chairman France, former Managing Director Bain EMEA
• BLUESTAR (CHINA), Olivier De Clermont Tonnerre, Deputy General Manager Strategy
• CYAMLAN (CHINA), Landing Zhang, Chief Executive Officer
• ESSEX (USA), Valéry Mercier, Vice-President IVA Global Enamel
• EY (USA), Jay Nibbe, Area Managing Partner EMEIA
• GENERAL ATLANTIC (USA), Frank Brown, Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer
• GENERAL ELECTRIC (USA), Ferdinando “Nani” Beccalli-Falco Senior Vice President , President and CEO of GE Europe; CEO GE Germany
• HERTZ (USA), Michel Taride, Executive Vice President and President Hertz International
• HEXCEL (USA), Thierry Merlot, VP & GM Europe/Middle-East-Africa/Asia-Pacific
• HP (USA), Peter Ryan, Senior Vice President Enterprise Group EMEA and Managing Director EMEA
• INTEGREON (USA), Robert Gogel, Chief Executive Officer
• KOBO (JAPAN), Jean-Marc Dupuis, Managing Director EMEA
• KORN FERRY (USA), Bernard Zen-Ruffinen, President EMEA
• LENNOX (USA), Hervé Martino, Vice-President, Managing Director HVAC & Refrigeration EMEIA
• THE MANITOWOC COMPANY INC. (USA), Eric Etchart, Senior Vice-President, and President of the Crane Segment
• MICROSOFT (USA), Afke Schaart, Senior Director Institutional Affairs
• MSD (USA), Bruno Strigini, President Europe and Canada
• PARNASO (BRASIL), Eduardo Eugenio Gouvêa Vieira, Chief Executive Director
• PFIZER (USA), Andreas Penk, Head Oncology Europe/Africa/Middle East Country Manager Germany
• PROLOGIS (USA), Philip Dunne, President-Europe
• ROTAM (CHINA), Jean-Michel Duhamel, Rotam CropSciences Chief Commercial Officier
• SNC LAVALIN (CANADA), Philippe Grasset, Senior Vice-President Europe
• SONY (JAPAN), Serge Foucher, Executive Vice-President Europe
• STEELCASE (USA), Guillaume Alvarez, Senior Vice President EMEA
• SUMITOMO (JAPAN), Marc Vermeire, Managing Director, Sumitomo Chemical Europe
• TORAY FILMS EUROPE (JAPAN), Marc Cogny, President and Operations General Manager
• UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION (USA), Thomas Reynaert, President United Technologies International Operations Europe
• XEROX (USA), Jacques Guers, Corporate Vice-President Global Accounts Operations