The association of European Family Businesses (EFB) hosted its 8th Summit in Berlin from June 13-14 in collaboration with its German member DIE FAMILIENUNTERNEHMER. This year’s theme explored the new ways in which family businesses in Europe can grow responsibly in turbulent times. EFB President Udo J. Vetter: “Inflation, high energy prices, broken supply chains due to the covid pandemic, high costs of an ecological and digital transformation. These are challenges for businesses and countries alike. To overcome them, you need competitive companies, long-lasting sustainable financing and an efficient European Union.”
Vetter: “The EU can only achieve its environmental goals with competitive companies. Which is why the topic of sustainable and responsible growth is at the forefront of EFB’s Summit this year. The goal of Europe being the front runner in tackling climate change is fully shared by us. But still cost of energy and the technical limits to many processes to further reduce emissions have to be taken into account. Neither Europe’s people nor the the rest of the world is being helped when highly advanced companies stop producing in Europe.“
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, addressed the audience through a video message: “Family businesses are the backbone of our European economy. Family businesses never stop to innovate. They don’t just focus on the next shareholders assembly. They value sustainability and investments that will benefit future generations. In short, they embody the best of what our social market economy in Europe is all about.“
Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner is also a guest at the EFB Summit. Before his speech, Udo J. Vetter explains: “As far as states are concerned, we are afraid that since the outbreak of the Covid crisis, an attitude has spread that individual states or the EU have the possibility to fix every crisis and economic with state money. Money they do not have: The average debt of all EU member states is now 95 per cent of GDP. At the same time most European countries are already in the top third of OECD countries when it comes to high taxes and charges. This is, after all, the downside of the many government spending programmes. But only long-lasting sustainable financing can ensure that companies are not unduly burdened and that the EU does not make itself vulnerable. As crises appear more often and hit us harder the EU must do whatever is necessary to let EU businesses unfold their competitiveness. A the same time the EU must refrain from doing anything that leads to additional bureaucracy and reporting requirements.“
The EFB Summit is held in a different city every year with the purpose of strengthening awareness of the importance of family businesses in Europe. It typically gathers around 100 European family business owners, senior policy makers, scientists, and media. The first EFB Summit took place in 2014. To strengthen the European economic strength and ensure that family businesses can scale up in Europe rather than having to look abroad, EFB has been lately advocating for the introduction and recognition of a Mid-Cap category at the EU level. There is the need for a recognised category for medium sized companies which have out grown the SME definition but do not yet have the capacity of a large enterprise. This category needs to cover the range from 250-4,999 employees and a turnover of between 50M€ and 1.5B€.
European Family Businesses is the EU federation of national family business associations, headquartered in Brussels; EFB is the voice of family businesses of all dimensions towards the European institutions. There are over 14 million family businesses in the European Union accounting for 50% of Europe’s GDP and employing 60 million people. EFB promotes the understanding of family businesses as the fundamental engine of economic development, wealth, and jobs in Europe, with a view to providing them the political and social recognition they deserve. The EFB is currently chaired by Udo J. Vetter, a German family entrepreneur with global operations.