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Corporate Europe Observer

The ERT Goes East

nlargement of the EU towards Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has become a major focus for the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT). The ERT presented its perspective in a message to heads of state and government prior to the Luxembourg EU Summit in December 1997, which dealt mainly with the issue of enlargement.[1] The 'message' to EU leaders, signed by ERT President Helmut Maucher, makes no secret of the commercial interests of ERT corporations, which exported some 70 billion ECU to CEE in 1996. Yet according to the ERT, the enlargement is a 'win-win' process and everybody will benefit if the ERT's conditions are met.

Enlargement should happen as quickly as possible, the ERT claims, since "the revision of agricultural and regional policies must not be used as an excuse for delaying enlargement." A further condition: the candidate countries "must strengthen and restructure their economies to meet the competitive pressures of a single market." To encourage this restructuring process in all CEE countries, the ERT calls upon the EU to "start pre-accession work with the five second-wave countries". The Roundtable plans to play its own role in the accession process: "ERT companies will cooperate directly with the Commission and in Business Advisory Councils set up within the candidate countries." Finally, the ERT points out that the EU should not forget to "deal with its own unfinished business. The Single Market must be completed, for there are too many obstacles to free movement of goods".

The ERT Enlargement Working Group, chaired by ABB Chairman Percy Barnevik, will publish a major report on the issue this spring. For more information on the ERT and CEE enlargement, see "Europe, Inc."


1. ERT letter: "EU Enlargement -- Message to all 15 EU Heads of State and Government", 1 December 1997. | Back to Text |

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