Thursday, 8 September, 08.30 hours: jointly with Stefan Mair, member of BDI's Executive Board, I push my way through the heavy rush-hour traffic of Brussels. Our destination: the meeting of BusinessEurope's Executive Committee, the umbrella European business organisation bringing together national industrial and employer associations. A stone's throw away from the European Commission, the Directors General of member federations are deliberating this morning with BusinessEurope's top executives on the implications of the UK referendum and the future of the EU. At 12.30 hours we leave the organisation's functional building - with a comprehensive picture of the mood across Europe and an appeal from European business to EU Heads of State and Government to bolster their commitment to a strong Europe.
In its efforts towards a competition-oriented industrial policy, BusinessEurope has been defending the central concerns of European business vis-à-vis the EU institutions for almost 70 years. The organisation founded in 1949 under the name Conseil des Fédérations Industrielles d'Europe today has as members 40 industrial and employer associations from 35 countries - non-EU Member States such as Turkey and Norway also sit at the table. As founding members, BDI and BDA jointly endeavour for a strong European organisation.
An enrichment for work in Brussels
Under the leadership of President Emma Marcegaglia and Director General Markus Beyrer, BusinessEurope has perceptibly increased its profile. In Brussels, the organisation stands for international trade, a competitive energy and climate policy, digitisation of industry and a deepening of the Eurozone. No simple achievement, because the competition among interest representatives for the attention of the EU institutions is intense: close to 10,000 organisations seek acceptance for their economic, social or ecological concerns on a daily basis - and the trend is upwards.
BusinessEurope has a lean but powerful team of around 30 experts which ensures positioning along the policy-making agenda. In 47 working groups, seven committees and regular meetings of the Directors General and Presidents of member federations, positions and strategies of European business are prepared and coordinated. BDI and BDA input actively into the organisation's work at all levels: four of the seven committee chairs with German involvement speak clear language.
There are good reasons for the commitment of German business. Alliances with European partners are a necessary precondition for feeding the interests of German business effectively into the EU's legislative process. Regular dialogue with 751 Members of the European Parliament and 28 Member States makes cooperation a must. A better understanding of other European countries and a strong European network enrich the work of Germany's leading business associations far beyond Brussels. A major asset in politically stormy times when the importance of Europe for freedom, security and prosperity risks being forgotten.