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BRUSSELS, May 19, 2011. The 9th European Business Summit (EBS), a key meeting place and networking platform for the EU’s business and political elite, concluded on a note of optimism in Brussels today. The summit, held on the 18 and 19 May, discussed the internal and external challenges that lie ahead for Europe in maintaining its position in the global economy. Under the theme ‘Europe in the world, leading or lagging?’, the summit united over 1,500 prominent participants from the EU and its main global trading partners.

"Creating growth and jobs, protecting the environment and social inclusion are key elements of our European model," stressed Van Rompuy. "We want to maintain the European way of living in our globalised world, but other major economies are racing ahead. Our businesses and workforce are facing major challenges in competitiveness, innovation and labour participation. Only together we will be able to ride new waves of growth."

In a keynote speech, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso complemented a programme which included over 100 high profile speakers, including European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Hitachi European Group Chairman Sir Stephen Gomersall.

Federation of Enterprises in Belgium President Pierre De Smedt - one of the main initiative drivers behind the event - said: "According to the recent FEB/Accenture survey, business leaders are more optimistic about growth prospects in Europe than they were last year. They are convinced of the EU’s growth potential but they believe that a major effort is still required in order to remove remaining obstacles from trade and mobility within the EU, stabilizing national budgets and removing uncertainty from the financial markets."

Alluding to the European Commission's forthcoming agenda, De Smedt explained: "As part of the collective effort to reinforce economic governance, the European Commission needs to carry out an objective analysis of national reform programmes. On that basis, it should exert sufficient pressure on governments to speed up essential structural reforms that will boost competitiveness, in anticipation of shouldering the costs of an ageing population, and that will pave the way for conquering new growth abroad, especially in emerging countries."

With the worst of the financial crisis now behind us, the summit took place at a time when corporate and government sectors are regaining confidence in Europe’s future. Regional coordination and cooperation will be central to picking up the pieces after the crisis, as well as seeking new markets and opportunities.

"European companies are working hard to recover from the crisis. There are still plenty of opportunities and talent in Europe that entrepreneurs can and want to develop, provided the environment is condusive to business. EU and national goverments on their side, must aim at structural reforms and secure budget discipline," concluded BUSINESSEUROPE President Jürgen R. Thumann.

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