Europe stands out from other large regions in the world by its specific social character (social protection systems, social dialogue, etc.). Yet Europe is struggling in this respect, even though pathways differ between and within Member States. The challenge lies in ensuring everyone is able to integrate the job market and make their voice heard in the workplace and in democratic processes, giving young people with fewer opportunities a chance. So how can we encourage the development of “sustainable enterprises” in Europe, involving all stakeholders? How can we promote social convergence, which would require a Europe-wide agreement on a common social protection floor? One solution would be to update collective bargaining arenas and mechanisms in order to integrate local and European dimensions.
At the same time, Europe must be able to compete successfully with its main trading partners, including the United States and China. But are we sure that “competitiveness” means the same thing to all of us? Although there is no real European industrial policy as yet, what added value could the Union provide in this area? The challenge lies in designing and implementing a European industrial policy based on cooperation and combining competitiveness with solidarity. The focus is on promoting investment to drive industrial innovation in today’s context of digital transformation and energy transition. The industrial policy must also take specific industries and sectors into account (aeronautics, healthcare, electronics, transport, space, etc.). How can we facilitate the development of local innovation ecosystems, skills and solidarity between companies? What role should be played by companies in different industrial and service sectors, regions and municipalities, Member States and the EU? What trade policy should Europe adopt to make our internal market “a base camp in the global market”? What are the stakes involved in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States?