Revitalizing the European Dream: A Corporate View

Business leaders are cautiously optimistic about the future of Europe and see an opportunity to revitalise the European Dream, according to INSEAD and Booz & Company study. 2,000 business leaders were surveyed on how the EU should move forward to ensure its place as  a global player. The survey was launched as part of the inaugural The State of the European Union forum.

INSEAD, the leading international business school, and Booz & Company, a global management consultancy, released the findings of ‘Revitalising the European Dream: A Corporate View’, a compendium of the viewpoints of some of Europe’s top-echelon business leaders. The goal of the survey is to better understand how business leaders perceive the European Union, its achievements and its  potential.

Despite the recent economic and financial difficulties, 28% of respondents report that they are positive about the current situation in Europe. Even more encouraging, the majority (61%) say that they believe that by 2030, the EU will be a major global power. 

Business leaders greatly value the EU‘s role as a supranational institution that guides legislation and policy. Moreover, they see EU having the power to amplify the voice of individual member states on key debates such as climate change, sustainable energy…

Business leaders are convinced that the role of the EU is absolutely essential on such topics as monetary policy, security and budgetary policy. They feel that the influence of the EU will continue to grow moving towards 2030: current difficulties will be overcome, with the role of the EU being pivotal.

Some areas are particularly interesting to highlight:

  • Trade: 95% of business leaders believe that Europe should take a unified position on trade issues and 9 in 10 feel this policy should foster free trade. However, responses differ by country according to their economic situation: Bulgarian, Norwegian, Danish respondents demonstrated 100% support for free trade while this rate fall to 70% in France and other more  protectionist countries such as Hungary and Portugal.
  • Budget: for most business leaders, the EU has much more credit on budgetary matters than national governments. This is even more obvious for countries with high levels of debt (Greece, Italy and Belgium) where 9 business leaders out of 10 favour delegating full responsibility of budgetary policy of member states to the European Union.    
  • Energy policy: 9 out of 10 business leaders look to the EU for a unified and centralized position on climate and sustainable energy. Poland is the exception.
  • Industrial policy: With regard to industrial policy, business leaders are divided by sector: respondents from the energy and retail industries are most in favour of harmonised industrial policy (6 out of 10).

“It is important to note that these business leaders are able to take a longer-term view of the potential of Europe, despite the current environment,” said Per-Ola Karlsson, Managing Director of Booz & Company, Europe. “The study shows that people doing business in the EU believe that Europe is undergoing a fundamental shift.” In terms of competitive advantage, business leaders strongly agree that innovation, SME activity, budgetary discipline and exports are key to fostering high growth. Business leaders clearly favour EU leadership on monetary and budgetary issues and, while they believe that EU members should share a common social model, opinions diverge on the form such a model should take.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (97%) advocate increased collaboration between universities and companies to drive EU growth. More than 2/3 (78%) of respondents believe that education’s ability to meet business needs will improve by 2030. Overall, they are confident in the future competitiveness of education in Europe, which they feel could be strengthened even more through a common European education policy.

“Business schools have an increasingly important role to play in Europe as the region looks towards the future,” said INDEAD Dean Dipak C. Jain. “Policy-makers will need to know more about business and vice-versa. Business schools will have to go beyond their traditional role in order to fulfill the demands of tomorrow.”

Finally, business leaders urge the EU to develop a stronger common voice on security, diplomacy and trade and favour enhancing EU presence outside its borders.  Going forward, they see opportunities to expand the leadership role of the EU on social issues, including education, unemployment and labour policies.  With regard to expansion of the EU’s borders, business leaders feel that it is important to complete the integration of the Balkan states and then reassess any further expansion.  

The findings of the study have been discussed over the course of a full-day conference on Wednesday, 29th June, at the inaugural The State of the European Union forum at the Egmont Palace in the presence of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, former President of France Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Polish Minister Adam Jasser and other policy makers, and executives of global companies.


This survey is based on an online survey that was sent to European business leaders in February 2011. This white paper summarises and analyses the results of more than 2 000 European business leaders who responded to the survey. The view of members of the European commission as well as thought leaders from international institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development are also expressed in this white paper.