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The British Chambers of Commerce will launch their "Vision of Europe" for the forthcoming European elections at an event in Strasbourg on March 31st.

Commenting on the launch in the Members Salon of the European Parliament Isabella Moore, President of the British Chambers of Commerce and Vice-President of Eurochambres said:

British Chambers of Commerce - Chamber Online


"Our manifesto for the European elections identifies for prospective Members of the European Parliament the priorities for British business over the next five years. We have always had good working relations with our MEPs and we want to continue that constructive partnership to boost jobs and trade for UK firms in the next Parliament.

"We believe that the EU should act only where it can create benefits that could not be achieved at national level and we need a Europe of nation states acting together to deliver a more competitive economy, creating jobs and wealth, grounded in security and stability.

"Business can get Europe working and growing again but it needs to be backed up by governments and politicians who understand the problems and wish to solve them."

Specific positions

BCC wants a Parliament that:

  • puts Lisbon agenda and economic reform first

  • recognises that SMEs are the lifeblood of the European economy

  • focuses on improving the quality of regulation and reducing burdens on business

  • encourages entrepreneurship, innovation and investment.

BCC policy priorities:

Economic reform: governments must deliver on the Lisbon agenda.

Our top three priorities are:

  • labour market reform (reform of social protection systems, labour market laws, improving employability through upskilling etc)

  • better regulation (through simplification of existing legislation and rigorous impact assessments of forthcoming legislation)

  • Completing the single market and making it work better (liberalise remaining protected markets; break down barriers to trade in services etc).

Improving quality of regulation: a uniform impact assessment system must be put in place to ensure a lighter, better regulatory environment for business

Making Europe's labour markets more responsive: key obstacle to meeting Lisbon target are Europe's inflexible labour markets

  • reform tax and social protection systems and improve mobility and employability of Europe's workers

  • retain individual opt-out of Working Time Directive.

Achieve a balance between quality and competitiveness in the environment

  • Net environmental benefit should be the driving premise of any new environmental legislation

  • Alterations need to be made to REACH proposals to ensure competitiveness of European business, particularly smaller firms.

Managing Economic change in Europe's regions

  • Regions ceasing to receive Objective 1 funding should receive transitional aid

  • Objective 2 should be redesigned so that they are available to all regions and can genuinely help improve competitiveness on the ground

  • Chambers across Europe should be involved in design and implementation of programmes due to their closeness to business community at local level.

Europe must exercise leadership in global economy

  • Talks should resume on the Doha round

  • Development must be a priority

  • WTO needs to be reformed.

Europe must be bigger and better

  • BCC supports enlargement: single market of half a billion consumers with open borders across 25 countries

  • But CAP needs urgent reform so that more money can be spent on promoting competitiveness in the regions.

  • We need a durable and efficient framework for 25 members.

Accession countries need to continue their work on institution building and boosting administrative capability so that they can implement and enforce the EU acquis.

April 2004

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