Our interview with MEP and Friends of New Europeans member Wim Van de Camp: His valuable insight on EU trade and entrepreneurship policies

As a substitute member of the INTA Committee, what would it be in your opinion the main challenge in EU Trade Policy in 2018?

European trade is facing two big challenges in my opinion. We face an unpredictable US administration and a complex relation with China. I think that particularly Chinese investments in Europe are going to influence Europe and European trade in a structural way in the near future.

Online shopping has a big impact on transport in general. As we see initiatives and investments in delivery drones and driverless cars, what do you think will be future developments? How is the TRAN committee anticipating on this?

New techniques can help us a lot, but I hope and I wish that human beings will still be numerous in the transport and delivery sectors. Delivery drones and driverless cars will certainly play a big role, but human capital is still essential and therefore should be included. If I can make a personal example, my neighboursor small local shops in the neighbourhood often play as a human contact between me and the delivery service, when I cannot be at home myself, which saves me a lot of time.

SMEs are the backbone of the EU economy. However, it seems that there the culture of entrepreneurship doesn’t really exist in Europe – in comparison with other parts of the world. Indeed, only 37% of Europeans would like to be self-employed, compared to 51% of people in the US and China.  How can you explain these figures? How should the EU address the issue, in order to unleash Europe’s entrepreneurial potential? 

Social climate in Europe is very comfortable. We see that the need to become an entrepreneur in the attempt to survive is less necessary than in the US. But personally, I am a little bit disappointed about our approach to SMEs. On the one hand, we talk a lot about SMEs at a European level. On the other, we have very complicated regulations and many social laws. SMEs and EU policies are certainly connected and SME´s must be promoted and supported by the EU, but I think that national legislations still have a big role in regulating SMEs and deregulation barriers where necessary.

Female entrepreneurs represent only a third of the self-employed in the EU. How can Member States and EU Institutions foster women’s entrepreneurial spirit and encourage more women to start their own companies?

I believe that when women receive a good education in economics, history, social sciences, they have the right tools to do that. We have to teach girls to become entrepreneurs at a young age, while still at school. There are also many campaigns and websites to serve as an information source. To improve the attitude, culture and legislation (for example with regard to maternity leave for both mothers and fathers and other initiatives that stimulate the opportunities for women and lower barriers) are both very important, and we have to make it easier for women to start their own business.

As a member of the ‘Friends of New Europeans’ group, how do you think institutions can help building a more balanced perception of New Europeans in the European Society?

We need success stories, and I think people are interested in knowing about them. I am from The Hague and the core of the business activity in the city comes from the neighbours where new Europeans live. There are many Turkish groceries, Moroccan greenery, Indian clothing. We need to give these success stories exposition, to make them known, and there are many of them.

On the upcoming elections of the European Parliament, which topic(s) do you think the debates will focus on?

Unfortunately, it’s all going to be about nationalism.