TENs.B European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT)Documents from [09/1985] to [06/2001]
ERT’s roots date back to the early 1980s: at the initiative of Pehr G. Gyllenhammar, the CEO of Volvo, 17 European businessmen met in the Paris boardroom of Volvo on 6 and 7 April 1983. They envisioned creating an organisation which would be able to convey its message about the state of the economy to the European political leaders. The core message was that Europe needed to modernise its industrial bases in order to regain its competitiveness. The industry perceived a lack of a common European industrial development policy, in contrast to the European agricultural policy. The meeting in Paris was attended by Pehr G. Gyllenhammar (Volvo), Karl Beurle (Thyssen), Carlo De Benedetti (Olivetti), Curt Nicolin (ASEA), Harry Gray (United Technologies), John Harvey - Jones (ICI), Wolfgang Seelig (Siemens), Umberto Agnelli (FIAT), Peter Baxendell (Shell), Olivier Lecerf (Lafarge Coppée), José Bidegain (Cie de St Gobain), Wisse Dekker (Philips), Antoine Riboud (BSN), Bernard Hanon (Renault), Louis von Planta (Ciba-Geigy) and Helmut Maucher (Nestlé). Both François-Xavier Ortoli and Étienne Davignon from the European Commission attended the meeting.
At the second meeting, on 1 June 1983 in Amsterdam, the ERT organisation was established, its charter accepted and the necessary financial arrangements were made. ERT became an advocacy group in the European Union consisting of some 50 European industrial leaders working to strengthen competitiveness in Europe. The group worked at both national and European levels. The European economy at that time was regarded as suffering from "eurosclerosis", which was perceived as a lack of dynamism, innovation and competitiveness when compared with the economies of Japan and the United States.
The goal of the ERT was to promote competition and competitiveness on a European scale.
At the outset, the group played an important role in the planning of the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden as part of its European Link project on improvements to the European infrastructure. This project also included several other international European infrastructural projects e.g. the Fehmarn Belt Bridge between Denmark and Germany. Later on the ERT became active in the promotion of the earliest Trans-European Networks.
The ERT's busiest decade was 1988 to 1998 under different chairmen: Wisse Dekker (Netherlands), Jérôme Monod (France) and Helmut Maucher (Switzerland) with Keith Richardson as Secretary General. During this time the ERT published influential reports in the domains of Internal Market, Infrastructure, Education, Environment, Information Society, Competitiveness, Job Creation and tax issues. From early on, ERT policy supported EU enlargement. It promoted and often led business dialogues between the EU and business circles in the US and in Japan as well as in developing countries. The ERT gave an early lead in presenting positive contributions to the climate change debate, and control carbon emissions.
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