Spanish Business Matches ECR Principles Ahead of European Elections

Trade and Economics - June 9, 2024

The ECR Prague Declaration proclaims economic recovery, growth and competitiveness as the Group’s focus items for any and all parliamentary terms.  This has clearly not been the case for the period 2019-2024, due to Mrs. Von der Leyen’s failed New Deal.  The European Parliament elections taking place this week will determine whether a majority of MEPs will head towards a socialist driven consensus again or else will instead favour free enterprise.

In the case of Spain, the main employers’ association CEOE has published a document of proposals for the new European institutional cycle 2024-2029 that should be taken into account by politicians who value business in their decision-making process.

Strengthening, speeding, boosting is the motto underpinning the whole programme, to be achieved through a public-private collaboration in order to improve competitiveness – precisely the third of the ECR focus triangle.  Mr. Antonio Garamendi, the CEOE’s President, points out that Spain should play a strategic role in the EU.  According to him, growth, the second of the Prague Declaration’s opening components, is equally key for the organisations’ programme.

The CEOE programme is divided into nine areas.  The first deals with the regulatory framework, which recommends implementation rather than production of new legislation.  It also calls for an assessment of how transposition will be executed by Member States, avoiding gold-plating.  This temptation has also been warned of by CEEMET, the European tech and industry employers’ association.

The second area aims to completing the single market.  This should be achieved by eliminating existing internal barriers, through measures such as a digital passport for products, as well as through European standardisation.

A third group of measures refers to a proper tax environment and to the new EU budget.  Fiscal regulations need to maintain legal security, while the Multiannual Financial Framework should promote SMEs’ access to investment.

Of course, not all ideas supported by the CEOE equal those of the ECR member parties.  Perhaps the least aligned is that included as a fourth objective, the so-called “Green Transition”; but there is fortunately a recognised need to keep competitiveness in the centre of this transition, despite its acceptance as a principle.

The fifth area equals the second transition of the Von der Leyen’s Commission:  the digitalisation of economy.  Spanish entrepreneurs fear losing ground against non-EU territories.  Artificial intelligence will play a role here.

Innovation stands sixth and is more briefly developed.  Surely both facts are worth of criticism.  Nevertheless, the CEOE rightly claims that the Union has lost speed in comparison to non-European competitors.  Seventh salutes social dialogue and employment.  Employers state that ours is the best place to live and work.  But is this still the case, particularly in Spain, which leads the whole of the OECD in youth unemployment?

The eighth group of proposals looks at the outside – the foreign policy and the commercial strategy with non-EU partners.  The CEOE supports a multilateral approach through alliances with nations around the world.  Commercial agreements are also fostered, as a means to implementing a so-called “open” strategy.  This is a major difference with the original concept of the European Union, primarily conceived as a commercial space to protect their own products and services.  This is no longer the case.

Last but not least, the strategic role of Spain is outlined.  CEOE calls for Spanish MEPs to play an active role in key parliamentary committees.  The document does not specify which committees it means, though this can be ascertained during the first weeks of the coming term.

All these considerations constitute a valid agenda for fruitful discussion along the next parliamentary term.  Such discussion can be implemented either with a leftwing attitude, as has predominated until now, or else with an ECR-minded approach, as represented in Spain by VOX.

Source of image:  ECR Group