Allow 'first-movers' to flourish in the European business environment, stop industrial protectionism

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Allow 'first-movers' to flourish in the European business environment, stop industrial protectionism

Even though it has been a year since the new period began in The European Parliament and since I was elected as representative for my Danish Conservative party and thereby a member of the EPP group, I notice that we are still not reaching a high enough speed of the political work.

The speed where it is possible to design new directives, regulations and other concrete tools to convey promises and strategies into actions and results.

Some of it comes from the impact of Corona, which has caused a lot of new precautions in our daily work in the Parliament, and despite the drama in the Council over the MFF and the Recovery Package, which have yet to be finalised, I am struggling with the slow tempo of the parliamentary work.

Before the election, I was one of the EU's millions of small business owners struggling to maintain and grow a business to make a difference. That was my life for more than 10 years.

Furthermore, my childhood was also marked by self-employed parents, who ran their business through different crises and the occasional economic upturn. Maybe that’s why I easily grow impatient in my political work; I am not going to apologise for that.

Instead, I want to use that energy constructively on something I thought there was already an agreement to nurture, spread and defend within the EU on.

And that is “first-movers”. The term for those who are first in their field. Those who are among Europe’s SMEs are in close dialogue with scientists.

Those, who have a true European corporate spirit, where a constructive approach is welcomed as part of the innovative tools, that gets the blue-collar worker to question the work of the white-collar worker. And in agreement and collaboration work on a solution that will send the company miles ahead of others. In the green agenda, the digital agenda or the agenda, that makes them an indispensable piece of the EU-puzzle that is a strong and independent Union, that marks the place of peace and freedom.

In my current work with the revision of the EU's tool for decarbonisation of the shipping industry, I, unfortunately, experienced that the respect for the first movers in that industry was met with an attitude of resilience and national-egoism. Fortunately, we landed a good compromise, but the experience has revealed a culture in European industrial and business policy that we have to end.

Because it doesn’t end with just one area, this spills over to other industries as well; accordingly, low-risk plant pesticides produced by European biotech companies are delayed because the Commissions competencies and procedures are a thing of the past where conventional chemistry was the only solution. That is just bonkers and also unethical.

With first-mover solutions like this European farmers could have a clear advantage - and the next generation a healthier world, where more mouths would be fed.

In the clear glow of Covid-19 and the trade conflicts healthy free trade principles and market mechanisms are challenged by protectionist forces.

Sure, strategic infrastructure must be protected, but the effort has to be clear and not disrupt the natural competition between first movers in any size business.

This is what has made the EU one of the world’s biggest and strongest economies. No matter what, we have to protect that base as part of our democracy.

Therefore, I hope that more of my colleagues will open their eyes to the potential of first-movers and together with me do more to ensure their choice of the EU as the home for their activities.

Pernille Weiss

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