We are living in disruptive and interesting times, not only for Greece but for the whole world. While in Brussels last week for AmCham EU’s Transatlantic Conference 2019 and the annual briefing sessions organized alongside it, I once again had the opportunity to meet with policymakers, major business representatives, economic analysts, and most of my counterparts in American Chambers in Europe. The topics addressed in both the conference and the briefing sessions were those on the top agenda in the EU and worldwide, including Brexit, trade with China, EU elections, energy and data security, digital tax, digital disruption and reskilling, health and environment taxes.
In brief, the trade and investment balance between the US and the EU still accounts for approximately 30% and 60% of global figures respectively despite the latest rhetoric and disputes. There are certainly grounds for discussion on a new EU-US trade and investments agreement, and it is to the benefit of both the United States and Europe, which share common values and common understanding, to reach a deal that will set the basis for trade rules on a global level and could effectively contain ongoing trade violations and associated bad practices from certain countries.
Both Brexit and the EU elections were much discussed, as they are expected to impact the course of the EU in the near future on all levels. Regarding Brexit, things are so unclear that nobody knows if, when and how the United Kingdom will leave the EU. The European Parliament elections in May will definitely put some pressure on the UK’s final decision, as it would be contradictory to run candidates in the European elections while simultaneously discussing how to leave the EU. As for the European elections, there was apparent nervousness in Brussels regarding voter turnout and the outcome of the polls. For the first time, projections show that the new Parliament will be quite fragmented. As EU officials realize how much is at stake, from the single market to European integration and security, they are beginning to discuss changes towards more open and less bureaucratic governance, more effective communication with citizens, and perhaps a more direct election model capable of bypassing political differences at the local level that dominate the voting process in member countries.
Back in Greece, and in the midst of a pre-election period not only for the EU but also for municipalities and peripheries within the country, our Chamber continues to push forward with its active presence and dynamic advocacy through a series of key events and open discussions on taxation, education, defense and security, health policy, regional competitiveness, and youth entrepreneurship. And of course, we tirelessly work to represent the business community in the strategic dialogue between the United States and Greece, true to our mission to support and enhance economic and trade relations between the two countries.