For German industry strong connections are indispensable. That is why BDI is a member of BusinessEurope.

Mission and priorities

BusinessEurope is the leading advocate for growth and competitiveness at European level, standing up for companies across the continent and campaigning on the issues that most influence their performance. A recognised social partner, we speak for all-sized enterprises in 34 European countries whose national business federations are our direct members.

The organisation is headquartered in Brussels at the heart of the EU institutions. We work on behalf of our member federations to ensure that the voice of business is heard in European policy-making. We interact regularly with the European Parliament, Commission and Council as well as other stakeholders in the policy community. We also represent European business in the international arena, ensuring that Europe remains globally competitive.

History of the organisation

Winning the peace

Following the chaos and disruption of the second World War, there was a fundamental need for a period of re-construction and co-operation in economic development throughout the continent. One aspect of this co-operation was the founding in 1949 of the Conseil des Fédérations Industrielles d'Europe (CIFE), and, within this organisational framework, the Union des Industries des pays de la Communauté européenne, begun by the national industrial federations from the six member states of the European Coal & Steel Community, initially to monitor this community. It was a natural evolution for this body to become the Union des Industries de la Communauté européenne (UNICE) in March 1958, to track the political consequences of the community created by the Treaty of Rome.

The six countries of this first European Community were all represented by the eight founder-member federations, the BDI and BDA (Germany), the CNPF (France), Confindustria (Italy), the FEDIL (Luxembourg), the FIB (Belgium), the VNO and FKPCWV (the Netherlands). The Federation of Greek Industries was accepted as an associate member.

At its début, the organisation was staffed by 7 directors and 7 employees under the supervision of a Secretary General (Ms H.M. Claessens) and under the leadership of the first President, Léon Bekaert. There were 11 Commissions and 12 working groups, with the Headquarters based in Brussels, as is still the case. In 2007, just before its 50th birthday, the organisation changed its name into BusinessEurope, The Confederation of European Business, expressing more clearly what it does and where it does it.

The basic motivation for collective action by BusinessEurope has remained unchanged for over fifty years, as can be seen from a comparison of the original mandate with the current expression of our mission. The original aims included uniting the central industrial federations to foster solidarity between them; encouraging a Europe-wide competitive industrial policy; and acting as a spokesperson body to the European institutions. BusinessEurope strived for permanent liaison with official institutions, studied current problems, and co-ordinated responses, and always at a general “horizontal” level. BusinessEurope was never a sectoral organisation.

As the EEC broadened and deepened, so BusinessEurope also grew. There are now 40 members from 34 countries, including the European Union countries, the European Economic Area countries, and some central and Eastern European countries. The current structure includes seven main committees, about sixty working groups, with a staff of almost fifty under the direction of the Director General Markus J. Beyrer; the organisation works under the leadership of its current President Emma Marcegaglia.