The European Round Table of Industrialists: Why Europe Matters

May 31, 2016

During Europe’s illustrious, but at times fractious, history, there have been many pivotal moments. Right now, it feels like we are at another fork in the road. Since the start of this decade, Europe has been challenged – problems with the Euro, terrorism, migration, and now the consequences of a potential Brexit. As the debate around these important issues continues, the value of the European Union has been called into question.


At the European Round Table of Industrialists, we believe the case for Europe working and staying together has never been stronger. Our organisation represents over 50 European companies sustaining nearly 7 million jobs across Europe.


Our continent has benefitted immeasurably from our European Union. Since its inception, the European Union has been a force for positive change – economically, socially, in terms of security, and in terms of the quality of life. Over the last 60 years, businesses have flourished and families have on average become more prosperous thanks to closer ties between people and institutions across Europe.


The facts support this. The European Union is now the world’s largest economy and largest trading block. Today, half a billion people in the EU generate 14 trillion euro worth of gross domestic product. The European Union accounts for 16% of the world’s imports and exports, and has negotiated trade agreements with numerous countries worldwide. This scale gives us tremendous bargaining power in international trade negotiations, and the ability to defend our jobs and industries against external threats.


Market liberalisation in areas such as telecoms, airlines and energy has brought greater choice, competition and efficiency. Travel by road, rail or air has become far easier thanks to EU legislation. Consumers can rely on food safety measures that set standards for the rest of the world, while medicines on our continent are governed by common rules. Collaboration on industrial and scientific research projects has been facilitated by European Union initiatives, while poorer regions have seen their economic prospects enhanced thanks to EU funds.

The European Union certainly needs to be improved. The work is not finished in addressing the challenges the European Union faces. Of special urgency today is the vital need to cooperate across borders on security against terrorism and to address the causes and consequences of the refugee crisis.


Europe also needs an integrated and efficient energy market to secure our energy supply and to lower carbon emissions while ensuring Europe remains competitive. European education and skills training need continued improvement so that citizens can succeed in the labour market. Small businesses need access to capital and human resource markets across borders and we need to realise the full potential of digitisation and innovation to create a true digital single market. This will enhance the competitiveness of European businesses, large and small, in order to create jobs and fuel economic growth.


An unravelling of the Single Market and the rules governing 28 countries would reduce, not boost our prosperity. Investment and job creation benefit from a united Europe. And, while respecting the decision of the people in the United Kingdom, we believe that a Europe without the UK would be weaker, just as the UK itself would be weaker outside Europe.


No one Member State can tackle these challenges alone and the demand for the people and nations of Europe to jointly work through the European Union has never been higher.


As leaders of some of the largest companies in Europe, we call for renewed confidence in the European Union as the first step to addressing our shared challenges. Only a joint approach to common problems will achieve the changes needed to improve the living and working conditions of the people of Europe, especially for young people and future generations.


The European Round Table of Industrialists

ERT Membership



Benoît Potier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Air Liquide



Nils S. Andersen, Group CEO, A.P. Møller-Mærsk

Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive, Vodafone Group



Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, L'Oréal

José María Álvarez-Pallete, Chairman and CEO, Telefónica

Paulo Azevedo, Chairman and Co-CEO, Sonae

Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell

Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, BASF

Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman and CEO, Heineken

Carlo Bozotti, President and CEO, STMicroelectronics

Svein Richard Brandtzaeg, President & CEO, Norsk Hydro

Ton Büchner, CEO & Chairman of the Board of Management, AkzoNobel

Paul Bulcke, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé

Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman & CEO, Saint-Gobain

Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of the Executive Committee and CEO, Solvay

Iain Conn, Chief Executive, Centrica

Ian Davis, Chairman, Rolls-Royce

Rodolfo De Benedetti, Chairman, CIR

Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer, Eni

Wolfgang Eder, Chairman and CEO, voestalpine

Henrik Ehrnrooth, President and CEO, KONE

John Elkann, Chairman, FCA

Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Board, F. Hoffmann-La Roche

Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman & CEO, Iberdrola

Zsolt Hernádi, Chairman and CEO, MOL

Heinrich Hiesinger, Chairman of the Executive Board, ThyssenKrupp

Timotheus Höttges, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom

Frans van Houten, President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Philips

Pablo Isla, Chairman and CEO, Inditex

Leif Johansson, Chairman, Ericsson

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens

Bruno Lafont, Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors, Lafarge

HolcimThomas Leysen, Chairman of the Board, Umicore

Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO, Volvo Group

Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP

Nancy McKinstry, CEO and Chairman Executive Board, Wolters Kluwer

Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman & CEO, ENGIE

Lakshmi N. Mittal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ArcelorMittal

Dimitri Papalexopoulos, Managing Director, Titan Cement

Jan du Plessis, Chairman, Rio Tinto

Patrick Pouyanné, Chief Executive Officer, TOTAL

Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, BMW Group

Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO, Orange

Kasper Rorsted, Chief Executive Officer, Henkel*

Güler Sabanci, Chairman, Sabanci Holding

Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman, Nokia

Tony Smurfit, Group Chief Executive, Smurfit Kappa Group

Ulrich Spiesshofer, Chief Executive Officer, ABB

Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman, BP

Johannes Teyssen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, E.ON

Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman, Investor AB


* Change of CEO in May 2016