EU Competitiveness in a Global Arena:
Charting the Path Forward

Customs union and a common market, which have brought substantial economic benefits to the European Union (EU). However, since 2008, the EU's GDP experienced a significant decline and only returned to pre-crisis levels in 2021, contrasting with the steady growth observed in the United States and China. Limited expansion of the common market and a focus on non-economic issues contributed to this economic stagnation. According to recent data, the Wealth Nations Index (WNI) of all EU member states is lower than that of the United States, highlighting significant disparities within the EU. Regulatory conditions in the EU are less favorable for innovation compared to the United States, hindering competitiveness. Simplifying EU lawmaking and decision-making processes is necessary for coherent policy implementation, along with achieving broader consensus among member states. The EU faces challenges in innovation and digital transformation, necessitating a reevaluation of data access, openness, and standardization. Regulatory requirements in the EU, especially regarding personal data processing, are among the most stringent globally, posing challenges for the technological sector. Collaborative efforts, particularly transatlantic cooperation, are essential for striking a balance between innovation support and privacy protection, especially in the development of artificial intelligence. Our discussion will provide a platform for stakeholders to explore these critical issues in depth and exchange insights on potential strategies to enhance EU competitiveness. 

  • Welcome

    Dr. Horst Heitz

    Chair of the Steering Committee of SME Connect

  • Keynotes

    Agata Boutanos

    Director of the Representation to the European Union, Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers;

    Presentation of the ZPP report on “EU Competitiveness in a Global Perspective”

    Seyide Direk

    Policy Analyst, European Enterprise Alliance;

    Presentation of the ZPP report on “Exploring CEE and Northern Underrepresentation in EU Institutional Roles”

  • Debate

    Dr. Laurent Maurin

    Head of Economic Studies Division, European Investment Bank

    Dr. Tudor Petru Fabian

    Policy Advisor to Iuliu Winkler MEP; Coordinator of the Working Group on Trade with SME Europe of the EPP

    Daniel Wennick

    Policy Director, Orgalim

    Ralph Kamphöner

    Head of Brussels Office & Foreign Trade Dept, Confederation of the German Textile & Fashion Industry

    Michael Jäger

    President of the European Taxpayers Association

    Harald Past

    Head, International trade & Taxation at EuroCommerce

  • Moderated by

    Dr. Horst Heitz

    Chair of the Steering Committee of SME Connect