on Europe

Europe will be great or it won't be at all – ZPP launches the "Focus on Europe" project

Fifteen years ago, the economy of the European Union was roughly equal to the economy of the most powerful country in the world, the United States. Today, the EU’s GDP is only half of the American GDP, and this is not due to particularly dynamic economic growth across the ocean – over the past decade, it has remained fairly stable within a solid, but not exceptionally high, range of 2-3% annually. However, this was enough to surpass Europe by a full length in half a generation. The conclusion seems obvious – the European development model is not working, and its continued maintenance threatens the continent with permanent marginalization.

The post-war reconstruction effort (financed, for example, by the United States) and the ambitious project of creating a specific entity enabling the free flow of services, goods, and people among its constituent states, without unnecessary barriers and hindrances – these two factors significantly contributed to the development of the European economy in the 20th century. However, building a strong Brussels bureaucracy created a space for pushing forward a third development concept, based on the assumption that Europe can enrich itself and gain a leading position by establishing standards subsequently implemented by other global players.

Thus, leveraging the privilege of precedence, the Union would become a global powerhouse in areas such as green energy, ethical digital economy, or low-emission vehicle production. European companies were expected, due to introduced regulatory constraints, to create innovative solutions and leverage this advantage within market competition. However, in practice, we find ourselves buying Asian photovoltaic panels and wind turbines, using digital solutions from American companies, and the largest European player in the EV market having a market share three times smaller than the Chinese leader and twice smaller than the American Tesla.

These examples are not chosen randomly or to prove a point – the Green Deal and an extensive agenda of digital regulations are currently absolute priorities for successive European Commission administrations. At the same time, the creative energy of European companies does not find sufficient outlet in other areas – we file nearly half as many patent applications in Europe as are registered in the United States.

Continuing on this path clearly leads to extending the crisis of European „southerners” to the entire Community. In a few decades, Europe may become a place still interesting for tourism due to its glorious past and remnants thereof but devoid of an innovative industry and economic power, with declining, increasingly weaker infrastructure, full of older people depleting their assets in wealthier countries and barely making ends meet in poorer regions. There is a very real risk that Europe will be pushed away from the table and the global decision-making center, becoming an increasingly lifeless living museum.

Repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results is madness – so if we want to avoid the above scenario, it is necessary to create a new concept for Europe and painstakingly pave the way for development in various sectors. This will be a task spanning many years, but it must start now, without wasting a moment. We need to unleash the entrepreneurship of Europeans, infuse a revitalizing spirit of competition and innovation into the sluggish behemoths built during Europe’s heyday, finally pick up the gauntlet and genuinely engage in the fight for global leadership position. To achieve this, it will also be necessary to allow (and even encourage) competition between individual member states – after all, the strength of the EU largely comes from the strength of the states that comprise it.

The upcoming elections to the European Parliament should not be about sterile political disputes and personal emotions of contenders for power – but precisely about this. Poland, taking over the presidency of the EU Council, should not focus on reiterating banal and unambitious goals but on generating an impulse to deviate from the European path towards marginalization.

Under the „Focus on Europe” program, the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers will initiate discussions on the most important issues concerning the competitiveness of the European Union and its development directions, as well as propose its own solutions developed in consultation with the business community.

The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers

The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers (ZPP) is the fastest-growing and one of the most active employers’ organizations in Poland. Established in 2010, the organization brings together 17 regional associations and 19 industry organizations. In addition to taking positions on all key issues in public debate, ZPP conducts a series of dedicated activities within the Digital, Labor, Energy and Climate, and Health Forums. We organize around 40 proprietary events annually.

ZPP is a non-political organization supporting free markets, fair competition, stability, transparency in law, and common sense, regardless of political divides.

We are a representative employers’ organization and a member of the Social Dialogue Council in Poland. ZPP is represented in Brussels through its Representative Office, membership in the European Enterprise Alliance, and membership in SME Connect. The Union has two representatives in the European Economic and Social Committee. Since July 2022, ZPP has been running an office in Kyiv actively supporting the development of Polish-Ukrainian economic cooperation.