Europe needs wake-up call on competition, warns CBI

2004

Less regulation and more common-sense is needed from Europe’s politicians if the EU is ever to attain its goal of becoming the world’s most competitive economy, the president of the Confederation of British Industry warned today.

In a hard-hitting speech, John Sutherland, who is also chairman of Cadbury Schweppes, told delegates to this week’s CBI annual conference that not enough emphasis was put on competitiveness when politicians were making their decisions.

Other speakers at the conference include in-coming European commissioner Peter Mandelson and Chancellor Gordon Brown.

British businesses were frustrated at the lack of progress made in this area by Europe’s leaders, Sutherland added.

"British business is pro-European. That is not a political view, just a statement of this country's economic interest," he said.

"The vision of Europe becoming the world's most competitive economy remains very much a distant one.

"Some national governments are dragging their feet on delivering the basic reforms needed to make Europe competitive. The outgoing European Commission - which should have championed free-market reform - appears obsessed with increasing employment and environmental legislation," he warned.

There were many in the European Parliament who ignored the impact on competitiveness of legislative proposals – and the UK parliament had been slow to wake up to the fact that it needed to scrutinise EU law more effectively.

The CBI would now take its message to Europe with a fresh lobbying drive to influence the thinking of the new European Commission, he added.

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