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Round Tables and Business Dialogues

Input from stakeholders is key for the Commission as it develops its policies. DG Enterprise and Industry, being responsible for relations with businesses, benefits from the advice of several dialogues with the international business community, which help us focus our resources on the areas and issues which are most important for the competitiveness of industry.

Canada-Europe Round Table

The Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT) was initiated in 1999 in response to the need for an effective Canada-Europe business dialogue. It is dedicated to creating business opportunities between Canada and the European Union. CERT actively develops company-member interests by:

  • Contributing recommendations to government to shape public policy and increase bilateral trade and investment.
  • Hosting thematic, high-level meetings focused on developing strategic relationships between company executives and with government officials.

EU-India Business Dialogue

The first EU-India Summit in Lisbon in June 2000 marked a watershed in the evolution of the EU-India relationship.

In 2001 the annual Joint Commission launched the Joint Initiative for Enhancing Trade and Investment. At the core of the "Initiative" is a field study conducted at the grassroots, stimulating debate within and between the business communities about the constraints and measures needed to boost investment and trade in these sectors.

This initiative focused initially on four sectors considered important for potential investors and traders. The results were presented to the 2002 Business Summit. These were:

  1. Food Processing pdf - 24 KB [24 KB]
  1. Mechanical Engineering pdf - 18 KB [18 KB]
  1. Telecommunications pdf - 18 KB [18 KB]
  1. Information Technology pdf - 18 KB [18 KB]

A second set of sectors was suggested at the November 2002 Summit, the results were presented during the 2003 Business Summit:

  1. Biotechnology pdf - 15 KB [15 KB]
  1. Textiles pdf - 29 KB [29 KB]
  1. Energy and power pdf - 20 KB [20 KB]
  1. Financial Services pdf - 75 KB [75 KB]

EU-India relations have grown exponentially from what used to be a purely trade and economic driven relationship to one covering all areas of interaction. The Fifth Summit in The Hague, on 8 November 2004, was a landmark Summit, as it endorsed the proposal to upgrade the EU-India relationship to the level of a 'Strategic Partnership'. EU and India are engaged as equal partners and work together in partnership with the world at large, as endorsed during the Sixth Summit (September 2006) with the approval of the EU-India Joint Action Plan pdf - 205 KB [205 KB] (JAP).

The Business Summit represents a platform to express the views and the needs of both sides business communities on interaction with political leaders. In addition, the Summit in Helsinki in 2006 launched a CEOs Round Table.

The initial business dialogue had the leadership of UNICE (on the European side) and the Confederation of Indian Industry ( CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on the Indian side. Other actors have been the consultants who conduct the studies in the framework of the ASIA-Invest programme.

The EU-India administrations relationship is well developed under the Joint EC-India Commission, to which the three Sub-Commissions (economic, trade, and development co-operation) report. An increasing number of  Working Groups composed by officials on specific sectors (e.g. textiles, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, TBT) report their respective works to the different sub-commissions.

The JAP also agreed to establish a Platform for Industrial Policy Dialogue with the aim of exchanging information and views on industrial policy and of enhancing mutual understanding or regulatory frameworks; however, the initiative has not produced too many results until now. Instead, regulatory dialogues started in the framework of the Pharmaceutical and TBT Working Groups. Also, regulatory dialogues are going to take place in the current Free Trade Agreement negotiations initiated in June 2007.

European Business and Technology Centre

In October 2008 the European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC) was opened in Delhi. It is a project co-financed by the European Commission and is being established by EuroChambres leading a consortium of 16 partners. The EBTC aims to provide support to European companies, and science & technology entities.

Its main objectives are:

  • to help European companies and researchers to access the Indian market,
  • to promote and support European clean technologies in India,
  • to increase the understanding among EU SMEs and science & technology entities of all opportunities offered by India,
  • to create synergies and active links with other European stakeholders based in the country and help enhance EU-India policy dialogue and business cooperation.

EU-Indonesia Business Dialogue

The first EU-Indonesia Business Dialogue (EIBD) took place on 1-2 October 2009. This pilot event was facilitated by the European Commission (DG External Relations) and co-ordinated with the Indonesian Embassy.

It is intended as a pilot project to help build synergies among the business communities of the EU and Indonesia and to provide an interface between business and policy-makers of the EU and Indonesia. The conference raised awareness about Indonesia’s business and investment potential, partnership encouragement, exchanges and joint ventures. The central idea is to give business an opportunity to develop its recommendations on the basis of its activities and practical experiences in the respective markets.

The EU-Indonesia Business Dialogue can develop into a useful forum for enhancing EU-Indonesia trade and investment links. The process should be business-driven, based on business federations on both sides.

The meeting was attended by around 100 participants with a massive presence of Indonesia businesses, organisations and government (about 60 people).

4 themes had a dedicated session: sustainable development, standards and certification on the tyres' sector, investments and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Sectoral dimension included: "Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Forestry" "Industry (textiles, pharma and cosmetics)" "Energy" and "Services" (telecomm, maritime transport and express delivery).

European-Israeli Business Dialogue

Background

In mid-2005 the vision of a "European-Israeli Business Dialogue" was born by the Vice President of the European Commission Günter Verheugen and the then Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert. Israel's view was that the impact of its Association Agreement with the EU on trade and investment levels should be enhanced for the benefit of both sides. When negotiating the Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Israeli authorities requested to establish 'a business community dialogue' with the aim of 'facilitating enhanced industrial co-operation, in particular between businesses'.

In the months thereafter the vague idea grew to become a tangible project: To create a forum where European CEOs meet their Israeli counterparts in order to foster business relationships by taking advantage of the fact that Europe and Israel are sharing similar economic and technological interests.

The aim of the business to business dialogue is to strengthen EU-Israel economic relations in areas of mutual interest, by creating a strong, sustainable and expanding dialogue of business leaders of both sides. This direct dialogue between EU business people and companies and Israeli business people and companies, and the recommendations to the government and the EU resulting from this direct dialogue will foster relations and create opportunities to remove barriers of trade and investments and enhance cooperation and joint ventures.

Initial focus

It was decided to initially focus on the following sectors:

  • Banking and Finance,
  • Energy and Clean Technologies,
  • Life Sciences,
  • Retail and Manufacturing,
  • Telecommunication, Media and Internet,
  • Tourism and Transportation.

Design and Methods

The dialogue is made up of leading business people from the European Union and Israel.

On the European side Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the publishing company Axel Springer AG, has taken the organisational lead. On the Israeli side this is Yossi Vardi, a leading entrepreneur in the Israeli high tech sector.

The European Business Dialogue takes place in the form of full-day events on a yearly rotating base in Europe and Israel, open to all mentioned industry segments. These meetings took place in Jerusalem (October 2007), in Davos in the margins of the World Economic Forum (February 2008), in Berlin in June 2008 and in Jerusalem in October 2009.

Sectoral Events

In addition to the yearly full-day meetings there are sectoral meetings in each of the defined industry sectors under the umbrella of the European Israeli Business Dialogue. These meetings involve a wider range of executives of large companies as well as start ups and the topics discussed are more specific. For efficiency purposes these meetings generally take place in the margins of existing conferences, where executives of both sides are present anyway (e.g. GSM, CEBIT, ITB).

Each Sector-Dialogue shall has a Co-Chair from each side.

Topics

Among the topics discussed are:

  • Identification of potential synergies between Israel and the EU;
  • Status of European investments in Israel;
  • Need for further harmonization;
  • Promotion of Research and Development;
  • Market access within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP);
  • Security.

Potential impact on policy-making

The dialogue may offer recommendations that could fuel further government-to-government co-operation. Ideally, such recommendations should be conveyed to the political leaders of both sides and reflected in the political decision making process.

The latest meeting of the European-Israeli Business Dialogue took place in Jerusalem on 22-23 June 2011.

The next meeting will take place on 31 October 2011 in Tel Aviv.

EU-Japan Business Round Table

The EU-Japan Business Round Table is a private-led forum that brings together the chief executives of some 40 leading EU and Japanese companies. The Round Table suggests ways in which government action could improve the EU-Japan business environment and facilitate cross investment. It therefore constitutes a valuable business input which gives the European Commission a direct taste of the practical problems that companies are faced with in Japan and Europe.

The round table meets annually, alternating between Japan and the EU. The latest Round Table meetings took place in Brussels on 6-7 July 2009 and in Tokyo on 19-20 April 2010.

Members of the European Commission, Japanese Government Ministers and senior civil servants from both sides usually attend the Round Table annual meetings and contribute to the "Joint Session of Round Table Members and Representatives of the Authorities". The Round Table issues annual recommendations which are formally submitted to the EU and Japanese Authorities (directly to the EU-Japan Summit leaders where possible). In response, and to steer the process, Commission services as well as the Japanese Government issue their respective Progress Reports every year which outline the progress made in considering or implementing the Round Table recommendations.

More information concerning the EU-Japan Business Round Table (in particular the annual recommendations and progress reports).

MERCOSUR-Europe Business Forum (MEBF)

Launched in November 1997, the MEBF aims at fostering trade and business relations between the EU and the Mercosur countries by establishing a permanent dialogue between the business communities and the political leaders of the two regions. For the policy proposals formulated by the MEBF to have the necessary political weight and visibility, the Business Forum is based on the strong commitment and active role of senior executives. These high-ranking entrepreneurs are meeting regularly at the MEBF Plenary Conferences to discuss their recommendations with top Government officials from the European Union and the Mercosur countries.

One thematic and seven plenary conferences have taken place since 1999:

  • I Plenary, February 1999, Rio de Janeiro;
  • II Plenary, November 1999, Mainz (EU co-chair: Jürgen Strube, BASF/Germany; Mercosur co-chairs: Carlos Bulgheroni, Brida/Argentina, Roberto Teixera da Costa, Banco Sul America/Brazil);
  • Business Facilitation Seminar, December 2001, Buenos Aires.
  • III Plenary, May 2002, Madrid (EU co-chair: Alfonso Cortina, Repsol/Spain; Mercosur co-chair: Carlos Bulgheroni, Brida/Argentina);
  • IV Plenary, October 2003, Brasilia (EU co-chair: Guy Dollé, Arcelor; Mercosur co-chair: Ingo Plöger, Melhoramentos/Brazil);
  • V Plenary, January 2005, Luxembourg (EU co-chair: Guy Dollé, Arcelor; Mercosur co-chair: Ingo Plöger, Melhoramentos/Brazil);
  • VI Plenary, November 2006, Buenos Aires (EU co-chair: Luis Mira Amaral AIP/Portugal; Mercosur co-chair: Antonio Estrany y Gendre, Consejo Internacional de Comercio y Producción/Argentina);
  • VII Plenary, October 2007, Lisbon (EU co-chair: Luis Mira Amaral AIP/Portugal; Mercosur co-chair: Antonio Estrany y Gendre, Consejo Internacional de Comercio y Producción/Argentina).

In 2008, Carlos Mariani, CNI Vice-President/Brazil, has been appointed Mercosur co-chair. Iñaki Urdangarín, member of the Advisory Board of Telefónica International/Spain, has been appointed EU co-chair.

Six main documents have been elaborated by the MEBF members: Business Facilitation seminar (December 2001), Madrid Declaration (May 2002), Brasilia Declaration (October 2003), Luxembourg Declaration (January 2005), Buenos Aires Declaration (November 2006) and Lisbon Declaration (October 2007). All of them encompass recommendations to the respective governments of the members and to the European Commission. Through the recommendations they have issued, MEBF members have been active partners in the Mercosur-EU negotiations for an Association Agreement, giving the necessary input on the most important technical issues that only business, with the practical experience of companies and federations, is able to provide. They have also proposed specific actions to be developed to promote trade facilitation and business cooperation while the negotiations are not concluded.

The practical work of the MEBF is developed within three working groups created in 1999 (market access; investment and privatisation; services and business development), which are co-chaired on a two-year rotation basis by an European CEO and a CEO from a Mercosur country. These are based on the idea that entrepreneurs must identify Mercosur/EU barriers to trade, services and investment, and elaborate joint recommendations to eliminate these restrictions.

See also: MEBF websiteSpanish(opens in Spanish, possible to choose English version)

EU-Russia Industrialists' Round Table

The EU-Russia Industrialists' Round Table (IRT) is a business-driven process, originally endorsed by the EU-Russia Summit in July 1997. Its main objective is to provide a permanent forum for businesspeople to present joint recommendations to the European Commission and the Russian Government with regard to business and investment conditions and promotion of industrial co-operation.

The Round Table is the only business forum with Russia with a permanent involvement of the European Commission and the Russian Government. Its conclusions have been presented to and acknowledged at EU-Russia Summits on different occasions, recognising the IRT as an important aspect of economic co-operation between the parties. The IRT is also referred to in the Roadmap on the creation of a Common Economic Space between the EU and Russia as the source for business input into this process.

DG Enterprise and Industry's role is that of a facilitator, co-ordinating the Commission services' input to the IRT process and providing a follow-up to its recommendations. The Commissioner in charge of Enterprise and Industry, Vice President Verheugen, acts as political sponsor of the IRT process and actively participates in the annual plenary meetings of the IRT. His counterpart in the Russian Government is Victor Khristenko, Minister of Industry and Trade.

The EU-side IRT co-chair is, from 2010 onwards, Mr Peter Löscher, President and CEO of Siemens AG.

The Russian co-chair is Mr Anatoly Chubais, until recently CEO of RAO-UES (Unified Energy Systems of Russia), and since September 2008 Head of Rosnanotech, the Russian Nanotechnologies State Corporation.

The IRT is managed by a Council, which is composed of prominent representatives of the EU and Russian business communities. It gives strategic impetus and guidance to the IRT process and prepares the IRT joint recommendations. Since 2006, the IRT Council has presented the recommendations directly to EU and Russian leaders on the eve of the autumn EU-Russia summits.

The IRT Council Members are:

Russian side:

  • Anatoly Chubais (General Director of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies - Rusnano);
  • Viktor Vekselberg (Executive Director, TNK BP Management, Gas Development);
  • Vladimir Evtushenkov (Chairman, AFK "Sistema");
  • Andrey Kostin (President & CEO, VTB Bank);
  • Alexey Mordashov (General Director, Severstal);
  • Alexander Shokhin (President, RSPP);
  • Lev Khasis (CEO, X5 Retail Group N.V.);
  • Alexander Shokhin (President, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs);
  • Vladimir Yakunin (President, RZD).

European side:

  • Peter Löscher (President and CEO, Siemens AG)
  • Nils S. Andersen (Group CEO, A.P. Moller - Maersk);
  • Gérard Mestrallet (Chairman and CEO, GDF Suez);
  • Gertjan Lankhorst (CEO, GasTerra);
  • Tony Hayward (Group CEO, BP p.l.c.);
  • Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen (President and CEO, Carlsberg);
  • Jouko Karvinen (CEO, Stora Enso);
  • Aloïs Michielsen (Chairman, Solvay).

Observers:

  • Thomas Mirow (President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - EBRD);
  • Frank Schauff (CEO, Association of European Business in the Russian Federation - AEB);
  • BUSINESSEUROPE, the Confederation of European Business;
  • Garegin Tosunyan (President, Association of Russian Banks).

IRT Task Forces operate in the following areas:

  • building,
  • energy,
  • forest industry,
  • transport,
  • IT, telecomunications and space,
  • financial services

On 18 November 2009, a meeting of the IRT took place at the EU-Russia Summit in Stockholm , where it presented its views on a series of broad issues encompassing trade, Russia's WTO access, alignment of industrial standards, climate change and others. The recommendations were presented directly to the Russian president Medvedev, Commission president Barosso and prime minister Reinfeldt for the Swedish presidency

Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD)

The current overall framework for the transatlantic relationship is the New Transatlantic Agenda ("NTA"), signed in 1995. The agenda, whose implementation is monitored by annual EU-US Summits, laid out an action plan in four areas to enhance economic and political relations.

The fourth area, "building bridges across the Atlantic", sets out a series of practical proposals aimed at "deepening and broadening the commercial, social, cultural, scientific and educational ties" between the two sides. Key among these proposals is the support for transatlantic civil society dialogues, notably the TABD.

The TABD is a business driven process. It traces its origins to 1995, when the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and EC Commissioners Brittan and Bangemann organised a conference for company CEOs from both sides of the Atlantic in Seville, Spain. The Conference was a success as it was attended by CEOs from more than 100 EU and U.S. companies, and by top government representatives. A process of bringing together CEOs to make policy recommendations was launched, and each year since then, CEO conferences are being held in a European or American city.

The major goal of the TAB is to boost transatlantic trade and investment through the removal of barriers to trade caused by regulatory differences. To achieve its goal, the TABD produces extensive recommendations on a wide range of issues involving numerous industries. Importantly, a recommendation issued by the TABD must be agreed jointly by both the U.S. and EU side. Te TABD is co-chaired by a U.S. and an EU CEO, and has a joint U.S.-EU organisation on the working level.

The European Commission takes account of the opinions and recommendations of civil society when proposing new or amended legislation or regulations. For issues having a transatlantic dimension, the transatlantic civil society dialogues, i.e. currently those of Business and Customers, are important interlocutors. Both the Commission and the U.S. Government are on the receiving end of recommendations produced by the dialogues which both sides take into account as policy is developed.

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