Welcoming speech at the annual general meeting of EPF:Europe & non-Tariff barriers

Welcoming speech at the annual general meeting of EPF:Europe & non-Tariff barriers

"Seeing the title of today’s session of the Annual General Meeting of EPF – The Future of Industry – definitely represents an opportunity", said Mr. Fantoni!

At Lucerne, at the annual general meeting of EPF, Mr. Fantoni, the Chairman of EPF, had a welcoming speech to the members.

"I’m convinced that the value EPF brings its members also lies in the messages that days like these offer. Listening to truly unique and invaluable speakers certainly will offer a vision of the new technologies, of the new competitive challenges we’re facing, and which will enrich us even further once back at home.

In my capacity as Chairman I’m however obliged to provide ideas for forming our vision of the future, seeking to urge all of us to take the responsibilities which we have in this circumstance as members of EPF.

All of us are called upon to boost our common capacity for sharing the future in order to manage change.

Change is very challenging and we are definitely going through an acceleration of the change for which our Federation, EPF, has to be prepared in order to give adequate answers without being hostages to visions of the past. In all this we can see how our members no longer share national or continental ideas, but instead intercontinental ones.

During our education, although in different languages, more theory for some and based more on experience for others, we have learned some fundamental elements of economics, such as the importance of economies of scale and the creation of efficiency based on experience, which represent a unifying business language.

These principles have strengthened in us ideas and interest for a free market as the balanced experience of a democratic system designed in favour of people and consumers.

We saw the growth of the Common Market and of the European Union later as the physical and political environment in which to place our expectations.

Now, everything we’ve achieved in the past 60 years appears to be under observation.

We’re witnessing the development of very strong local and nationalistic revivals, which often, due to the “misuse of use of the idea of public health precautions” or other subjective ideas of the interpretation of safety, bring about the end of a free market, the end of the principle of free circulation of goods.

The rebirth of these ideas creates difficulties above all for SMEs. The specific needs of different markets which demand huge investments for product compliance and certification of processes and of the same products afflict SMEs, creating a competitive imbalance among producers.

As well as penalising small firms all this leads to the impossibility of increasing production efficiency and creating actual continental champions.

One example of all this is represented by the different standards which cause problems for the wood construction industry in relation to fire regulations, which not only have major restrictions in single countries but where to an even greater extent the rules undergo further subjective interpretations at a regional and municipal level.

All this is taking place not only in buildings in wood, but also in a wide range of areas with major negative repercussions on consumers.

In a period of strong exacerbation of communication by institutions which are playing with fire in referring to the introduction of customs duties, we have to consider that the non-tariff barriers on trade between countries, also within our Europe, suffer the same effects.

Faced with these scenarios, it is my duty to call on all entrepreneurs, all our member associations to consider that the basis for discussion on our initiatives and our proposals has to be European and has to be aimed at principles of standardisation of rules and sharing of goals.

Going against these systems will mean the return to aspirations for a Medieval merchant system, possibly without physical boundaries and without customs duties, yet made up of many small markets, isolated from each other.

While many mistakes have been made over the years, it’s time for greater discussion, greater participation and greater responsibility among us in considering how much has been built up patiently by the European founders.

EPF will place all its commitment and its energies at the service of a superior plan for a Europe based on greater competitiveness and harmonization of regulations, even lodging an appeal at the European Court of Justice for infringement of the rules on free circulation of goods.

EPF however cannot be considered solely as a last-resort saviour. EPF cannot be the place for bringing problems which can no longer be solved nationally.

EPF has to be the place for preventing problems and planning the future of all this and it is essential that everyone takes on greater responsibility than in the past.

We will succeed in all this if we succeed in participating even further in the work of our Federation".

Paolo Fantoni,

Chairman EPF

Lucerne, 29 June 2018