Today, more than ever before, there are questions being asked of the European Union's policies and whether its institutions are sufficiently adapted to manage current challenges and foster new strategies. Indeed, the challenges that Europe is facing are unprecedented.
The consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, terrorist attacks, international turmoil, migration flows and Brexit are just some of the developments affecting our continent.
This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the European Community. The anniversary provided the opportunity to reflect not only on the achievements of the European Union but also on the path to be taken in the future; a future that the EU can only embrace through working hand-in-hand with the driving forces of its economy: the business community.
Europe's companies are indeed part of the solution and play a central role in generating growth and jobs. Historic moments such as these contain all the ingredients for a paradigm shift within the EU and in the politics of Europe in general.
Therefore an open and constructive dialogue on Europe's strengths and weaknesses as well as the rapid and unpredictable pace at which our world is evolving is essential to paving the way to a better future for its citizens.
Providing a vital contribution to this ongoing dialogue, the European Business Summit is uniquely positioned to foster cooperation and interaction between the business community, political authorities, universities, think tanks and research centres of the businesses association.
With a 17-year legacy of working with businesses and policymakers, EBS is well placed to play its role as a unique platform of debate and collaboration between all the stakeholders of the economy.
With this in mind as the driving force behind the shaping of the summit, over the years, EBS has increased its scope accordingly by enlarging its range of stakeholders and establishing a long-term dialogue with them.
Today, EBS is not only a two-day main annual Summit but also comprises additional one-day events on relevant industry topics throughout the year with 'Think Digital', Energy Policy Summit, (co-organisers), 'Back from Davos', 'Europe Defence Summit' and others to come.
This is also reflected in the structure of the EBS 2017 programme which will see a number of roundtables and conferences organised in cooperation with key partners, bringing their specialisation, network and authority on board.
Among the roundtables present in this year's EBS programme, I would like to underline in particular the 'European Dialogue on skills and migration' launched at the initiative of the European Commission's DG Home and the 'Sustainable Development goals Conference' set up by CSR Europe.
With eight roundtables, EBS will expand upon the ability to facilitate interaction between the business sector, EU/national policymakers and the research community by focusing on in-depth analysis and recommendations.
The networking village will see a number of interactive debates and innovative presentations, supported by numerous institutions and organisations.
Thanks to the experts promoted by the European Research Council and DG Research, new ideas and technological solutions will be shared with the audience. Many other speakers will engage in promoting new models and ideas aimed at improving the governance and efficiency of the EU.
At this year's summit you will also find a study conducted by our main knowledge partner, the McKinsey Global Institute, entitled, 'European Business: Strengthening Recovery, Overcoming Uncertainty'.
Responding to the need for active and pragmatic collaboration between different players in society, the report provides answers from European business leaders on the most recent questions raised by the Commission within its five scenarios on the future of Europe.
I have no doubt that the debates at the European Business Summit will contribute to finding the path the EU should follow in the future. Only with strong foundations and a resilient economy will the European Union and its member states be in the position to provide credible answers to citizens' concerns about the future and help ensure the EU economy can continue to grow and create jobs, despite growing global political uncertainty.
Finally, I would like to thank our Strategic partner Tata Consulting Services, as well as all other institutional and business partners, for helping us to make EBS 2017 a pivotal and influential summit. I wish you an inspiring time during the Summit.