European Round Table of Industrialists

European Round Table Of Industrialists

European Round Table of Industrialists

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The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) was born out of a growing preoccupation with thestate of the European economy in the early 1980s. Frequently diagnosed as “eurosclerosis”, thesymptoms were an evident lack of dynamism, innovation and competitiveness, in comparison withJapan and the United States. European markets, with the exception of agriculture, were still national,despite the Single Market objective set by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Economies of scale were veryhard to achieve and the burden of red tape was stultifying.

Fear of the consequences spurred a group of 17 businessmen to come together in Volvo’s boardroom,resulting in the launch of the European Round Table of Industrialists in Paris on 6-7 April 1983. Theyconsciously sought to create an organisation, better able than others, to wake up governments to theparlous state of the European economy.

Spearheading the initiative was Pehr Gyllenhammar, then chief executive of Volvo. His readiness tospeak out to the press in favour of remedial policies for Europe’s structural problems encouragedother senior businessmen to join him – notably Wisse Dekker of Philips and Umberto Agnelli of Fiat.Their support helped to secure the participation of other high-calibre, pro-European industrialistsready to support the idea that Europe needed to “break out” of its current stasis and embark on amassive modernisation of its manufacturing base.

In Brussels, the Pehr Gyllenhammar initiative was watched with...
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