By Shellie Karabell
A new survey shows business leaders believe financial decision-making within the European Union should be more centralised and the EU itself could shrink in order to become more competitive. INSEAD, Booz & Co, and the European Executive Council (EEC) surveyed more than 2,000 executives from around the world to create this survey on the corporate view of the EU, to be discussed at the second annual “The State of the European Union” conference presented by the EEC in Brussels at Egmont Palace.
Respondents expressed confidence that the EU will remain an essential payer on the international stage, indicating that the current economic crisis is a time of transformation of the EU project, and acknowledges the possibility that some countries may be forced to leave the Eurozone, thus creating a two-speed Europe: a stronger and smaller core moving faster than the rest. They also believed Europe’s greatest challenge is its lack of competitiveness and low level of growth – problems which require structural change if they are to be surmounted.
“The financial crisis presents a rare opportunity for long-overdue structural reforms and even for questioning the existing political agenda,” said INSEAD Dean Dipak Jain. “It is important that the corporate view be heard so that Europe can attract new investments, talent and resources, and generate new prospects for business and economic growth.”
The executives surveyed fully support the completion of the single market in Europe, and the transference of “best practices” among member states, but felt that no one EU social model would suit each member country. Hence, while economic integration was perceived as necessary, social flexibility was seen as an important factor in the successful future of the EU.
The report is organised into six areas: The Corporate View on the EU, Austerity and Responsibility, Europe’s Social Structure, Technology and Innovation in Europe, Younger Voices and the BRICS Perspective, and Questions for Debate. Authors are: Ludo Van der Heyden, the Mubadala Chaired Professor in Corporate Governance and Strategy; Bruno Lanvin, Director of INSEAD eLab; Per-Ola Karlsson, Senior Vice-President & Managing Director, Booz & Co; and Robert Gogel, Co-Founder of the European Executive Council (EEC) and CEO of Integreon.