Olympic stadium - the City of London continues to attract the most dynamic, highest-performing finance and business talent from across the globe. The maritime services cluster - a building block of the City’s eminence - is no exception. It is at the head of new industry developments; offering leading consultancy and advisory services on environmental compliance and providing world-class education to the next generation of shipping professionals. While any of these elements can be found elsewhere, it is only in London that you can find them all together, and in such depth. But we are fully aware that there is no space for complacency. Competition from Asia and other rising powers is intense. The Eurozone crisis has brought Europe’s declining competitiveness - in shipping, services and across the board - into stark focus. The quest to boost competitiveness and urgently needed growth dominates current European discourse. There can be no one formula for success. But innovative, bold and forwardthinking businesses - exemplified by many in shipping and maritime services sectors - must be at the absolute forefront of efforts to deliver sustainable European growth and jobs. The primary response of national governments and the EU should be to allow its businesses to flourish on the international stage. Reforming national and European structures to boost competitiveness is at the core of the UK’s growth strategy. Prime Minister David Cameron has consistently argued
the need to liberalise markets, remove barriers to trade and ease the regulatory burden European businesses face. These arguments have gained significant ground but much work remains to be done if Europe is to retain global economic prowess and exploit, and develop, its comparative advantages. Britain, working with a significant number of EU partners, has been leading efforts to strengthen the EU’s policies to promote growth. To complement our national policies, EU-level action to boost growth - for instance through completing the single market, regulatory reform and promoting trade - is an essential counterpart to national-level actions. Business must be a crucial voice in this debate. If we are to resist damaging calls for protectionism, it is essential that European business leaders make the arguments for structural reform, liberalisation of European markets and the reduction of excessive regulation that they know to be so costly to Europe’s competitiveness. In this era of uncertainty, the entrepreneurial, adaptable and innovative instincts I have come to admire in both Greek shipping and the City of London, are the path to European recovery. But the Governments of the EU and the European institutions need to create an environment for enterprising business to flourish and deliver European prosperity and jobs. The United Kingdom is committed to doing so and welcomes the support of Europe’s business community.
European Business Review (EBR) magazine, Issue 2 of 2012