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National Council President Sobotka: Europe Must Look to Innovation

Austrian Parliament, 17 September 2018

Wolfgang Sobotka and Inge Posch-Gruska open the Interparliamentary Conference on SECG in the Context of the Parliamentary Dimension of Austria’s EU Presidency

Vienna (PK) – The ability to find the right equilibrium between a willingness to innovate and the creative economy was and still remains a key factor in enabling Europe to achieve excellence,” underscored National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka at the opening of the Interparliamentary Conference on SECG at the Austria Center Vienna. Similarly, Federal Council President Inge Posch-Gruska stressed the necessity of striking a balance between economic and social aspects.

The “Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union” is taking place today and tomorrow at the Austria Center Vienna in the context of the Parliamentary Dimension of Austria’s EU Presidency. It is now the second meeting for members of national parliaments and the European Parliament during the EU Presidency in Austria (please see also the website of the Austrian Parliamentary Administration (https://www.parlament.gv.at/PERK/PE/EU2018/)

The conference was opened by National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka and Federal Council President Inge Posch-Gruska. Karlheinz Kopf, Chairman of the National Council’s Finance Committee, is chairing the conference, and the opening statement kicking off the conference was delivered by Margarete Schramböck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs.

Sobotka: We must tap our own potential to ensure competitiveness

In his welcoming remarks, National Council President Sobotka focused on the necessity for innovation. The EU is a “driver” in its willingness to innovate, he said, pointing also to the US and Asia, especially China, as economically strong regions. Europe cannot compete with low wage products, but must rely on innovation, Mr. Sobotka stressed. After all, we must tap into our own potential to ensure competitiveness; customs tariffs do not paint a positive outlook, he said in reference to current protectionist trends. The key pillars enabling European competitiveness are innovation and investment in education, he stressed.

Mr. Sobotka also said he considered it necessary above all to focus on training and education in so-called STEM fields and to earmark increased investment in research and development. Here, it is important to begin early on and take decisions that have a long-term impact. International cooperation must also be strengthened, he added.

Consequently, National Council President Sobotka called on the members of the national parliaments in attendance to take the conference’s exchange of ideas back home with them to their own parliaments, as “parliamentarians bring European policies closer to the citizens, thereby contributing to a shared whole.”

Posch-Gruska: The EU‘s true strength lies in balancing economic and social aspects

Federal Council President Inge Posch-Gruska expressed her concern at citizens’ loss of trust in the EU. We must regain this trust, she said, stressing, “The EU must demonstrate its resilience without losing sight of the well-being of its citizens. The ability to strike a balance between economic and social aspects is what constitutes the European Union’s true strength. In so doing, it demonstrates that economic growth, employment policies and social policies go hand-in-hand.”

She also issued an urgent warning in light of burgeoning nationalism. Subsidiarity is a key principle in Europe, and the Federal Council’s European Affairs Committee is committed to actively monitoring subsidiarity. However, subsidiarity must not be abused for the purposes of promoting nationalism, Ms. Posch-Gruska emphatically stated (continuation conference).

PLEASE NOTE: Photos of the conference can be found at the website of the Austrian Parliament at https://www.parlament.gv.at/ENGL/PERK/PE/EU2018/WIPOCONF/ .

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