Young Europeans

The strength of Germany’s economy is reliant on the EU and the single European market.Companies therefore need to work harder to ensure that the EU continues to develop in the right direction, says the chairman of an association of young entrepreneurs.

November, 2017

When member states of the European Union (EU) cooperate and collaborate, it has a positive effect on the European economy as a whole. Ergo, increasing European integration leads to further economic growth and new business opportunities. Companies should be actively encouraging deeper ties with Europe, says Alexander Kulitz, chairman of Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland.

“We have to take responsibility and make our contribution to making the European Union and the single market even more successful in the future,” says Kulitz. From a German perspective, this is vital for growth: in recent years, the country has flourished as a direct result of free trade and free movement of capital within the EU. Exports from Germany are at record levels. In addition, many foreign companies have invested in Germany. “Today it would be hard to imagine trade and capital flows between EU countries being regulated,” he says.

Over the next few years, Kulitz’s organization wants to focus on inspiring young people to be more consciously pro-Europe. “Many young people and young adults today take the benefits of European integration for granted,” says Kulitz. “This is why they are mainly concerned with disadvantages or show a certain degree of neglect with regard to the EU.”

Pro-EU demonstrators gather in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt square in March 2017. The “Pulse of Europe” movement sprung up in 2016 as a response to the Brexit result and the election of Donald Trump.

© Hermann Bredehorst/Polaris/laif

He suggests that companies and trade associations have several ways to deal with this problem. For example, companies could help young employees to work abroad for a period of time. “Many university students already go abroad in the context of European programs such as Erasmus. This should also be possible for trainees,” he says.

The association is also working toward eliminating bureaucratic obstacles for young entrepreneurs. “If the EU succeeds in adapting its regulation to the needs of small businesses, this would make the single market even more attractive,” claims Kulitz. For this reason, the association is calling for a so-called “SME test” for all new EU regulations, to determine whether a new ruling fits the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The “Wirtschaftsjunioren” regularly exchanges information on pro-EU initiatives with similar organizations within the trading bloc – for example, the “Yes for Europe” congress, held regularly in Brussels. Representatives of ten young entrepreneurs’ associations from all over Europe meet there to discuss current issues. Kulitz and his fellow campaigners are seeking to further expand their ties with other EU countries and have recently signed a close partnership with the Dutch Association of Young Entrepreneurs.