Customs union and a common market, which have brought substantial economic benefits to the European Union (EU). However, since 2008, the EU’s GDP experienced a significant decline and only returned to pre-crisis levels in 2021, contrasting with the steady growth observed in the United States and China. Limited expansion of the common market and a focus on non-economic issues contributed to this economic stagnation. According to recent data, the Wealth Nations Index (WNI) of all EU member states is lower than that of the United States, highlighting significant disparities within the EU. Regulatory conditions in the EU are less favorable for innovation compared to the United States, hindering competitiveness. Simplifying EU lawmaking and decision-making processes is necessary for coherent policy implementation, along with achieving broader consensus among member states. The EU faces challenges in innovation and digital transformation, necessitating a reevaluation of data access, openness, and standardization. Regulatory requirements in the EU, especially regarding personal data processing, are among the most stringent globally, posing challenges for the technological sector. Collaborative efforts, particularly transatlantic cooperation, are essential for striking a balance between innovation support and privacy protection, especially in the development of artificial intelligence. Our discussion will provide a platform for stakeholders to explore these critical issues in depth and exchange insights on potential strategies to enhance EU competitiveness. 

EuroCommerce Speaker

Harald Past

Head, International trade & Taxation

Harald heads the EuroCommerce activities on international trade and taxation matters. His mission is to facilitate trade for importing and exporting companies and to simplify the tax systems. Harald is Austrian and holds degrees from the University of Vienna.