AmCham EU discusses the future of Europe in Strasbourg
By Susan Danger, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU)
Recently, I had the opportunity to head down to Strasbourg for the first week of the new European Parliament.
It was great to be at the centre of the discussions on who will be the new President and Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament and on candidates for some of the EU’s top jobs, which was top of mind for everyone. I enjoyed the chance to meet newly elected MEPs, but also to reconnect with familiar faces and some MEPs with whom we have been working closely for many years. In these informal chats I introduced AmCham EU, discussed our priorities and had frank and open exchanges on some of the challenges facing Europe.
This is an important time as the European Parliament is gearing up for the next five years, political groups are formed, and most importantly, priorities are being defined. We are all by now aware of the changes to the Parliament, with over 60% of MEPs newly elected. However, we must not forget the clear winner from the recent elections was voter turnout, with over 50% of eligible voters participating. This is a positive trend as it means more citizens are engaging in the debate on Europe and its future. These election results were only the start of what will most certainly be a defining next five years for the future of Europe.
The world looks very different to what it did five or even ten years ago. In the context of today’s global challenges, now is the time to bring new ideas forward. That is why AmCham EU has identified four priority areas we believe should drive forward the political agenda over the next five years. These four priorities are empowering people, boosting the Single Market, leading global cooperation and investing in the future. With a sustained focus on these priorities, Europe can remain one of the most attractive regions in the world to do business.
It will also be important to balance competing views and interests to ensure the EU comes together on key issues such as sustainability, climate and energy, the digital economy and the future of work, to name only a few. The EU has an opportunity to put citizens’ aspirations and interests at the core of policy-making. Coca-Cola, one of AmCham EU’s member companies, is a great example of an American company putting such areas at the forefront of its future-looking policy agenda. They have ambitious sustainability goals, such as by 2030, to have 100% of their plastic packaging easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted. This will benefit not only Coca-Cola, but also the EU and consumers worldwide.
American companies are committed to Europe and its citizens. We directly support more than 4.8 million jobs in Europe and generate billions of euros annually in income, trade and research and development (R&D). Along with creating jobs, developing infrastructure and driving innovation, American companies are also committed to investing in people and communities. From social and educational programs, to R&D, environmental and health initiatives, these investments and their social impact are tangible examples of the positive role US business plays in Europe, both today and for its future.
We all have an important role in helping to foster a culture of partnerships between governments, business and civil society organisations, to handle the challenging policy issues that will impact Europe over the next five years. In an uncertain international environment, working side-by-side with all parts of society will enable us to bring Europe forward together.