sâmbătă, 28 aprilie 2012

How is Belgium 'playing' in the EU?

I'm living in Belgium for 15 years already and to be more precise – in Brussels, the capital of Europe. I'm amazed how this 'small' city managed to adapt and to 'open' itself to fit in the European structure. To host the main offices of the EU institutions and the 'army' of the EU lobby, Brussels needed to bring a lot of logistics and planning skills to the table. However, the Belgians viewed it as an incredible opportunity for them, and currently the EU is a prominent local 'industry'. It's not by chance that the Brussels region is the 3rd developed region in the EU, behind the rich London metropolitan and Luxembourg. Yes, it is the same official ranking of the 268 EU regions, where the North-East Region of Romania is last.

The Belgium business community adapted to these European opportunities. The European Business Summit (EBS) is perhaps the most visible expression of how the business community takes advantage of the geographic proximity to the 'heart of Europe'. The department in charge with external relations for the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB), proposed to the EU Federation of Enterprises: BusinessEurope, to organise an event in Brussels, for the EU business community. The first edition took place in 2000 and was held every two years, after the model of an event called 'European Davos'. The event flourished and it became an annual event from 2006. Some data about the event over the years: it attracts 2.000 participants each year, 5 European Commissioners, tens of MEPs, hundreds of CEO's, numerous journalists – all with a budget of over 2 million Euros each year, putting together business and politics.

The EBS 2012 was built around the theme 'Skills for Growth'. It was a great success with the attendance of high level guests and keynote speeches from Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, Mario Monti and Elio Di Rupo.

Since 2002 I have been part of this event and it is always a wonderful and interesting experience. When you are thinking that the Romanian associations are still fighting to show the business community in Romania that the EU is important, and that it is imperative to have policy papers about EU sectorial legislation from a Romanian perspective. It wouldn't be bad if Romania looks ahead - why not organise and host a 'Balkan Business Summit', an annual congress in Bucharest, in the future? Poland, for example, already hosts the 'CentralEuropean Economic Forum' in Krynica, so why not?

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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