Heard in Europe

The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), arguably the most influential business organisation in Brussels, convened the international press on Tuesday (10 March) for its second annual media briefing lunch.

About a dozen journalists were around the table, including representatives from some of Europe’s most prestigious media outlets, including the Financial Times, Les Echos, Reuters and EurActiv.

The main speaker at the briefing was Benoît Potier, the CEO of Air Liquide and current ERT chairman, flanked by Jean-François van Boxmeer, chairman and CEO of Heineken.

The meeting flopped, however, as journalists were served reheated dishes on the need to “boost competitiveness”, the importance of the single market and how energy prices had become a source of worry for business. Oh, and innovation and skills were also flagged as being particularly important too, of course.

No kidding. These have been top of the priority list of all EU business organisations for more than a decade at least.

The reporters present, while munching on flavourless sandwiches, tried extracting a little more substance from the insipid lecture they were being served, but to no avail.

A frisson of excitement was briefly unleashed when Potier proudly announced that the ERT had come up with something special this year. But it immediately fell flat when this transpired to be nothing more than a new brochure, on the subject of “competitiveness”.









The ERT is largely credited for promoting the Single European Act during the 1980’s and was instrumental in pushing large pan-European transport infrastructure projects such as the Fehmar Belt Bridge linking Denmark and Germany.

The meeting was on-the-record so media expectations were understandably high. Next year, maybe off-the-record?

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