Shaping a Resilient and Competitive European Business Landscape: Insights from Commissioner Thierry Breton

Dragoș Lucian Ivan
Dragoș Lucian Ivan

In a recent high-level discussion I attended in Brussels, organized by the European Policy Center, Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, delivered a compelling message to the business community, emphasizing the pivotal role that courage and execution play in navigating the challenges confronting the European Union (EU). Breton underlined the collaborative ethos of EU problem-solving mechanism, emphasizing that individual member states cannot effectively address these challenges in isolation. Breton outlined a strategic roadmap for the EU, identifying key focus areas to enhance competitiveness and resilience. His first emphasis was placed on the development of innovative investment tools tailored for the internal market and future technologies. Secondly, he highlighted the need for an augmented industrial policy framework, setting the stage for regulatory advancements. Thirdly, Breton advocated for targeted investments in robust reindustrialization efforts, emphasizing a proactive approach to economic growth.

A central tenet of Breton’s vision is a more competitive Europe that not only exports products but safeguards jobs within its borders. Recognizing the EU’s scientific progress, he stressed the urgency of transitioning from pure research to commercial markets, particularly in cutting-edge technologies like advanced manufacturing. Legislation emerged as a linchpin in Breton’s strategic vision, with reference to key acts such as the Critical Raw Materials Act, the Net-Zero Industry Act, and the European Chips Act. These legislative measures are designed to swiftly augment the EU’s industrial capacity, focusing on critical raw materials essential for the twin digital and green transitions. Breton stressed the significance of fostering an industrial ecosystem where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), NGOs, unions, and economic organizations play vital roles. Acknowledging the EU’s dependency on critical materials and fossil fuels, especially from Russia, he highlighted the need for a strategic vision to secure value chains.

The identification of ten critical areas, including advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum, and biotechnologies, complement the importance of monitoring and enhancing the EU’s toolbox for economic security. Collaboration with international partners was emphasized as crucial for a collective response to emerging risks. Expressing ambition to position the EU as the first destination for investment, Breton put a focus on computing power and prioritized physical and cybersecurity for critical infrastructure. Also, defending against the potential weaponization of economic dependencies emerged as a critical imperative.

Looking ahead, a strategic defense industry plan for the EU is slated for presentation by the end of February 2024. Enlargement and fiscal discipline were identified as top priorities, with the creation of a European sovereignty fund to address critical technological needs. Legislative milestones, including the Digital Network Act, were announced for the near future.

Breton’s vision for the EU’s single market is one that seamlessly bridges laboratory excellence with commercial success. Proactive measures to anticipate and prepare for new technologies at scale are essential for aligning with EU excellence.

In terms of international relations, Commissioner Breton conveyed a compelling goal – presenting Europe as an open continent and a favorable investment destination. Principles of reciprocity in regulations were emphasized, underscoring the importance of creating an environment conducive to business growth. Access to the market for SMEs and strategic financing for the twin transitions were positioned as pivotal for fostering innovation and sustainable economic growth in the EU.

To conclude, this was yet another opportunity to understand the ever-evolving landscape of business. As my fellow lawyers, whether it’s providing legal counsel for startups or offering guidance on complex corporate matters, I invite you, the reader, to reach out to discuss legal matters and to continue to follow the platform in order to receive up to date information for your business.

Lawyer PhD Dragoș Lucian Ivan

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