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EU must improve 5G and boost technology, say top companies

The next European Commission should prioritize beefing up th..

The next European Commission should prioritize beefing up the Continents 5G networks and accelerating the take-up of technologies such as AI, according to a survey of some of the EUs largest businesses.

The study, carried out for the European Round Table of Industrialists, tapped into the opinion of CEOs from its member companies — which between them have a combined revenue of €2,250 billion, and include major firms such as Volvo, Heineken, Shell, Nestlé and Siemens. ERT members employ 6.8 million people in Europe.

The ERT Economic Confidence Survey asked business leaders about their optimism for growth over the next six months and for their views on what the new European Commission should prioritize.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels next week for their first formal summit following the European election. Decisions on who should fill the EUs top jobs will high on the agenda.

Tech issues came out top of the list of CEOs priorities, with 73 percent ranking “digitalization and 5G” as a top priority on a 6-point scale. Sixty-six percent ranked “new technologies” as a top priority. In third place was “fair global trade” with 55 percent giving it the top ranking. “Skills and capabilities” was next on the list.

“The best response would be for the Commission to not focus too much on China or too much on the U.S., but focus on where we can improve” — Frank Heemskerk, ERT secretary-general

Further down were issues such as “competition policy,” “climate change” and a “U.S. trade deal.” The CEOs ranked “supporting SMEs” and “labour market rules” as the two least important priorities for the new Commission.

“We need the right policies to ensure our economies can take advantage of innovative technologies, our companies lead the world in their application and our citizens experience the benefits,” Chief Executive of BASF Martin Brudermüller wrote in an open letter to policymakers to accompany the survey.

He said ERT members back measures to strengthen the internal market over what he called “fragmented” national regulations. “The key tasks for the new European Commission should be accelerating digitalisation and a digital single market, as well as investments in Artificial Intelligence with common rules, and fast mobile communication technologies (5G) without disruption at national borders,” he wrote.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, trade tensions and the changing political climate, the respondents are optimistic about the next six months.

“I believe business and industry can become more competitive by moving forward in a clean way” — Sam Van den plas, policy director for Carbon Market Watch

The study — which was conducted by the Centre for European Economic Research — shows rising confidence among the 52 businesses surveyed. The ERT index, which amalgamates sentiment about future growth, rose from 2.1 in November to 2.9 in May (it scales from -10Read More – Source

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