April 29th 2016

Austria – Germany – Europe.

The Economic Requirements for Securing a Competitive Edge.
Dieter Hundt, President of the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria

As part of the MCI Alumni & Friends lecture series, the Entrepreneurial School® recently invited Dieter Hundt. As President of the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Allgaier Group, and Honorary President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, Hundt discussed his personal views on the current challenges faced by business development, particularly in the context of globalization and digitization.

Dieter Hundt began his talk by illustrating the most influential factors in the economic development of the European Union: apart from the economic and political challenges brought about by the influx of refugees, Hundt particularly emphasized the possible withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and, last but not least, the rising threat of terrorism to European countries as the essential factors that might influence the European economy on a long-term basis.

As Hundt observed, Germany is currently in an economically stable position. The employment rate is higher than ever before; actual wages are increasing; the rate of inflation remains relatively low. This situation can mainly be traced to particular factors such as the low euro exchange rate, benefitting exports, or low rates of interest. Since these factors are beyond control, it is not very likely that Germany’s present condition will last much longer. Since Germany is the EU member state with the largest population and greatest economic power, its uncertainty will affect all of Europe.

In order to be able to continue to compete on an international level in future, European states must again draw even closer together. The possible withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, now commonly referred to as Brexit, has plunged the internal market into deep crisis. Only economic convergence can now help Europe make progress. This is also why Hundt approves of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US and welcomes the suggestion to reduce established trade barriers to facilitate business with one of the most important trading partners of Europe.

Moreover, Hundt is convinced that Europe must reach a final and common solution to the current migrant crisis. The influx of migrants must be controlled and, in further consequence, also reduced. It is necessary to reinforce effective controls at the external EU borders and simultaneously counteract the enforcement of internal borders: only free trade across borders can guarantee economic growth and wealth for European countries.

Hundt’s lecture culminated in a lively discussion moderated by MCI Rector Andreas Altmann as host of the event.