Europe needs a highly competitive single market if it is to sustain our quality of life

  • Posted on 19.06.2009

Europe needs a highly competitive single market if it is to sustain our quality of life


John Wilkinson

Former Chief Executive of Eucomed


Warm summer sunshine bathed the triumphal arch of the Parc du Cinquantenaire as colleague John Brennan and I walked down the tree-lined Avenue de  Tervuren to attend sister organisation COCIR’s 50th birthday party.

Highlight of a wonderfully sociable evening amongst a veritable “who’s who” of the medical technology industry in Brussels was an impassioned speech by Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen. One of his key messages echoed our own frustrations at the inability of health systems in Europe to innovate at anywhere near the pace at which our sector operates.

The clarity with which Mr Verheugen outlined the challenges facing Europe from maturing economies in China and India, as well as the continuing economic muscle of the USA, brought into sharp focus the necessity for Europe to operate as a coordinated economic block. An effective and highly competitive single market is critical if European industry is to create the high-value jobs needed to sustain and develop our quality of life. Our sector is a shining beacon in this respect.

It is a real shame that European citizens are largely unable to hear the words of people like Commissioner Verheugen and the real issues relating to the European adventure remain largely absent from national debate. The likelihood of prosperity being delivered to European citizens by national governments pursuing individual economic strategies seems remote but few national politicians are encouraging mature debate. Meanwhile, via the Council of Ministers, member state governments’ actions over the last 30 years have confirmed a belief in European economic and social collectivism.

Nothing new in all of this, but the 500,000’ish people in our industry could help to explain some of the benefits of the single market in terms of the value that we are able to deliver to EU citizens.

John Wilkinson, Chief Executive Eucomed

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