EU must better communicate its success stories

Written by Markus J. Beyrer on 17 March 2017

Markus J. Beyrer| Photo credit: BusinessEurope

The EU must better communicate its success stories, says Markus J. Beyrer.

Next week, Europe will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the treaty of Rome. This historic date is an opportunity to define an effective way forward for the European project.  

For those in the EU bubble, following the work of the EU institutions, the measures they propose, what the EU achieves and which projects need to be improved is all part of a daily routine. However, too often those in Europe's capitals and provinces only ever hear about the EU in times of crisis. Shouldn't the EU's success stories be communicated with the same resolve? 

The EU has been the main force behind unprecedented economic and social progress across Europe over the past 60 years. With a quarter of SMEs operating in several EU countries, millions of successful companies carry out cross-border activities. This is possible thanks to the EU single market, which has substantially facilitated cross-border business for our companies and created 2.77 million additional new jobs between 1992 and 2008. The manifold advantages of the single market are today perceived as normal, but it took hard work from thousands of people. Take for example the new roaming rules that will allow citizens from June 2017 to make phone calls within the entire EU without any roaming charges. It took many years, but we're there now.

Another clear success is the Erasmus programme, which celebrates its 30th anniversary. Since its launch, over three million young people have benefitted from the scheme. It's a success story of which we should be proud.

Businesses, EU institutions and especially national governments should speak up more positively and explain the benefits of the European Union as well as the advantages of being united. The EU must be the place where we look for answers and not where we blame each other for problems. To live up to the challenges the bloc faces, such as insufficient growth and employment, security threats, geopolitical instability, Brexit and rising populism, we must work together more efficiently at European level. We need strong and efficient EU institutions pulling in the same direction and we need national governments willing to make the necessary reforms to improve growth.

Of course, not everything works perfectly, and reaching agreements on the policies to be pursued can be a lengthy process. Take the unitary patent. It took us more than 30 years to reach agreement and we still are in the final stage of implementation almost five years after this agreement was reached. Or take trade policy and the recent controversy about our EU-Canada free trade agreement which was negotiated during seven years and is clearly the most progressive agreement ever negotiated by the EU so far.

To shape globalisation in accordance with our values, the EU must remain open to the world and set a vision which enables economic growth and prosperity for all. For that, it must focus on projects of real European added value which can deliver concrete benefits. 

Seven decades of peace and stability in Europe is an enormous achievement which should not be taken for granted. No country in Europe can succeed acting alone. In light of the global challenges ahead of us we have the choice between succeeding together or becoming insignificant separately.


About the author

Markus J. Beyrer is director general of BusinessEurope

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