The European Investment Bank (EIB) and World Economic Forum issued a call to action for social inclusion to be put at the heart of EU economic policy at the launch of a new joint White Paper by both organizations, with contributions from the think tank Bruegel. The event gathered together policymakers, business representatives and academics at the European Investment Banks Brussels Headquarters.
The White Paper makes the case for more private-public sector partnership to drive a more inclusive approach to growth in Europe. Innovation and entrepreneurship are the prime ways that growth and inclusion in Europe can be supported, says the White Paper, which puts forward key recommendations for action: from supporting public-private partnerships for technology diffusion, investing in smart transport infrastructure, supporting schemes for migrant entrepreneurs, a better strategy for teaching advanced digital skills as well as better access to venture capital and non-traditional sources of financing for small businesses.
Vice President Andrew McDowell, representing the EIB in the panel discussion, said: “As we launch our report, EU finance ministers are meeting across the road. They know only too well the costs of growing inequality and uncertain prospects for the European economy. Our report is saying inclusion can no longer be treated as an afterthought. It is not a luxury - it is a catalyst for growth. What our very concrete and practical study shows and indeed what we see on the ground at the EU bank, is there is a win-win space where we can promote both inclusion and competiveness at the same time. Now we have to scale this up and bring the private and public sectors together to do this.”
Richard Samans, Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum added: “We need a major shift in mindset in how we think about inclusion – as a positive catalyst for growth. It’s about rethinking our economic model and moving away from treating growth and inclusion as two separate processes. A partnership between the public and private sector joined by academic and civil society can help bring this about. The report we are launching and discussing today - and our Europe Growth Lab project provide starting points for implementation. I would urge policymakers to take heed - and use this study and our partnership as a valuable guide to how we can move forward.”
The White Paper has identified around 25 concrete examples in Europe of real initiatives focused on innovation and entrepreneurship that can serve as starting points for implementation, acceleration and scaling up. At the end of the event, the representatives of WEF and the EIB reasserted their intention to work towards further public-private partnerships to take this process forward and invited participants to come forward with proposals and expressions of interest.
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