Patrick Martin is a candidate for the presidency of Medef.
In one year, on June 9, 2024, the French will be called to the polls to choose their representatives in the European Parliament. This election, which will naturally have its counterpart in each Member State, will be a crucial event for the Union and its future. But what future? Europe is an obvious fact shared at Medef. Its regulations impact the daily lives of our entrepreneurs and their employees. This is where our companies carry out the majority of their trade but also their foreign investments. In recent years, the mutualisation of part of the debt and the Next Generation plan have been decisive progress. But Europe is now facing what must be called a new cartography of the world. It must assert itself in the worrying context of a quasi-cold war between the United States and China with, in the background, the challenge to Western hegemony.
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It must integrate both the impact of the US IRA (Inflation Reduction Act), which gives companies operating across the Atlantic a formidable competitive advantage, the growing weight of Asia - host of the last two G20 - and the tectonic plate movements underway in Africa and the Middle East. Finally, it still has to draw the consequences of the war in Ukraine on its defence strategy and its energy policy, the limits of which have just passed have shown. All these international tensions also thwart the response to the climate challenge, which would require extensive cooperation and of which the Union wants to be at the forefront. Europe will have to act if it wants to escape the sad fate of a simple adjustment variable between the major blocs. Medef does not do politics. Its diplomacy is economic. However, in my opinion, the situation justifies hammering home the essential priorities that must be those of the Union: we need a Europe of solidarity, a Europe with more growth, and a Europe with fewer constraints.
Our companies will have to play a decisive role in reindustrialization but also in "greening" the country and ensuring insurance protection against new cyber and climate risks.
A Europe of solidarity because no country can ensure its sovereignty or security alone in the face of pandemics, the danger of external aggression or natural disasters. The Union (with a capital letter) is strength, it is true both politically and economically. This is why Medef must seek the broadest alignment with European employers, especially with Germany, to reach balanced positions. This is the purpose of the annual trilateral meeting France-Germany-Italy and the bilateral meetings created over the past 5 years, which will have to be continued and expanded with our main partners.
A Europe with more growth because only economic development will be able to ensure the financing of our social protection at the same time as that of the essential digital and environmental transitions. Our companies will have to play a decisive role in reindustrialization but also in "greening" the country and ensuring insurance protection against new cyber and climate risks. They are at the forefront of research, innovation and training. To play their full role in the service of society, they must be prosperous.
Yes to regulations that promote progress and fair competition! No to the excess of standards that generates complexities, slowness, legal uncertainties and additional costs!
A Europe with fewer constraints, because companies need to be competitive to contribute to growth. Medef supports the European project as long as it moves in the direction of dynamic and responsible growth. But the necessary fight for simplification remains to be fought. Yes to regulations that promote progress and fair competition! No to the excess of standards that generates complexities, slowness, legal uncertainties and additional costs! This obviously applies to SMEs but also to large European and foreign investors, who can only choose Europe, as they often wish, if Europe offers them a welcome of the same quality as the other major blocs, Asia and the Americas. From taxonomy to non-financial standards, competition policy or the elusive "duty of care", much progress remains to be made in this area. Many battles remain to be won.
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Like companies, Medef will have to deliver them to Brussels by being even more present to follow the debates around regulation, and actively participate in them – it must also strengthen its presence in Washington and gain a foothold in Asia. Our companies (and those who represent them!) must be loyal to the European project, which they have actively defended for more than thirty years, and open to the world, but they must also be determined to defend their interests.