Brussels, November 20, 2023 – The European Parliament of Enterprises (#EPE2023) convened at the European Parliament on Tuesday the 14th of November after a five-year hiatus to address the pressing challenges afflicting European businesses. Speakers and participants made a resounding call to combat chronic labour shortages through upskilling initiatives and new laws to simplify the process for third-country workers to work within the European Union.
Solutions to address these labour shortages are gaining prominence in Brussels, with the EU reportedly working on an online platform to match EU job offers with workers who want to move to Europe. The success of EU jobs platforms such as EURES, the cooperation network of employment services designed to facilitate the free movement of workers within the EU, shows the benefits of working together with different stakeholders, public and private sector, migrant communities, businesses, and chambers of commerce to find solutions to address labour shortages.
Chronic Labour Shortages & Skills Mismatch
Renew Europe MEP Dragoș Pîslaru, a prominent voice during the opening panel on Skills, emphasised the dire impact of recent demographic shifts across many member states, underscoring the substantial skill mismatch plaguing the European labour market.
The discussion echoed the urgent need to revamp education and continuous upskilling to bridge this gap. The looming twin transition — green and digital — if not implemented carefully, could pose a competitive disadvantage due to the scarcity of an adequately skilled workforce.
Also addressing gender disparity in the workforce, MEP Pîslaru addressed that there was already a large contingent of the European labour market unable to work due to informal care responsibilities, primarily women, making a strong call to reform care systems across Europe to ensure women’s inclusion in the labour market.
Fostering Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs underscored the need for proactive measures to attract the best global talents, acknowledging the need for more skilled individuals amidst the rapid technological evolution. The question of improved legal migration policies emerged prominently, with entrepreneurs seeking clarity on the EU’s plans to address labour market shortages through better migration regulations.
Speaking to The New European, Eurochambres CEO Ben Butters emphasised the significance of both entrepreneurship and the movement of talented individuals in boosting European growth and tackling skill gaps. Butters stated “Entrepreneurship and talent mobility are two important and interlinked elements in reviving European growth and addressing skills shortages. We need to attract talent from around the world, not just to plug vacancies in existing businesses, but also to create new opportunities through entrepreneurship and innovation”.
With European Elections looming in 2024, UNITEE’s upcoming manifesto will call for a European Agenda for Inclusive Entrepreneurship to create an inclusive entrepreneurship environment, empower migrant entrepreneurs, and boost economic strength through diversity.
The EU must create a labour environment that welcomes and supports diverse entrepreneurial talent, aiming to tackle not only the labour shortage but also the inclusion gaps prevalent across European societies.
The Agenda for Inclusive Entrepreneurship compliments the broader conversation at #EPE2023 about the need for inclusive policies to tap into the potential of diverse talent pools and strengthen Europe’s economic fabric.
Furthermore, UNITEE’s call to harness Europe’s economic strength through diversity and deeper economic relationships with countries of origin echoes the sentiments expressed by entrepreneurs seeking to leverage global talents to fuel innovation and economic development.
Commission Promises to Cut Red Tape
RENEW MEP Dita Charanzová, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Trade, spearheaded the opening of the event and promised that the EU is committed to cutting paperwork, supporting skill developments and making more cross-border funds available to support European SMEs.
The gathering witnessed the convergence of nearly 700 entrepreneurs and businesspeople encompassing diverse business sectors, and small and large enterprises alike.
Vladimir Dlouhý, President of Eurochambres, noted that the Parliament represented a special opportunity for businesses from outside the EU to have their voices heard at EU, with members from 43 European represented at the event.
During the Parliament session, representatives voiced their pressing concerns and advocated for practical solutions to fortify Europe’s business landscape amidst turbulent geopolitical conditions.
Business Realities & Policy Implications
Voting Highlights from the event revealed stark realities faced by entrepreneurs:
- 88% reported increased difficulty in recruiting skilled staff over the past five years.
- 87% anticipated tougher global competition for EU businesses due to the ambitious targets of the European Green Deal.
- 97% expressed concerns over geopolitical tensions disrupting their supply chains.
- 93% felt that the Single Market inadequately supported their company’s operations and competitiveness
The key message from the European Parliament of Enterprises underscored the need for policymakers to collaborate closely with entrepreneurs, with emphasis on skill development, revamping the labour market, and reforming migration policies to address chronic labour shortages.
By embracing these challenges, Europe can work with entrepreneurs to fortify its economic resilience in the global arena. As the event concluded, the call resonated for a stronger, more integrated Single Market, steering away from internal discord and rallying for collaborative efforts in a global context.
The #EPE2023 encapsulated the determination of European entrepreneurs to reframe the ongoing crises across the world as opportunities to make improvements, from greener, sustainable businesses to upskilling of the labour force to integrating emerging technologies throughout their work.
Organised in cooperation with the European Parliament, the European Parliament of Enterprises recreates a parliamentary session and brings entrepreneurs face-to-face with senior EU policymakers for one day to enhance mutual understanding. The 2023 edition revolved around three key issues for the business community – energy, skills and international trade – with the single market as an overarching theme to mark its 30th anniversary.