“The business world is open to Europe, but Europe must also be open to the business world,’’ warned 700 European entrepreneurs gathered in Brussels on Wednesday.
These business leaders — including thirty Belgians — sat, debated and voted in the European Parliament on Wednesday, taking the place of MEPs for a day in the Chamber.
During the fifth edition of the “European Parliament of Enterprises” (EPE), 700 EU entrepreneurs were asked to position themselves on trade, the single market at the time of Brexit, and on the future of Europe.
When questioned on these topics through a series of votes in the European Parliament Chamber in Brussels, 69% of these entrepreneurs considered that “the single market is not working enough in favor of companies.” Voters were almost unanimous (99%) to believe that “the EU needs to work more in order to help SMEs take advantage of the benefits of free trade agreements,’’ according to a statement from the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce.
“As business leaders, we want to have a strong single market, a strong Europe from an external point of view, a stable economy and talented workers. We consider the EU as part of the solution to these challenges, but we will get results only if European policy takes business needs into account,” General Manager of the Belgian Federation Wouter Van Gulck decrypts.
With the looming prospect of the UK leaving the EU, 87% of the entrepreneurs argued that “single market integrity and EU unity must take precedence over a Brexit agreement favorable to the United Kingdom.’’
Entrepreneurs were also asked to vote on the mismatch between supply and demand on the labor market. 98% recommended that “apprenticeship at work become an integral part of technical and professional training.”
The European Parliament of Enterprises is an event organized every two years by Eurochambres, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce. For this edition, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani was present during the discussions, as well as Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, and the main Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.