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EU 'good for business but needs more flexibility for future' says FSB

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FSB-LOGO-W-STRAP_RGBThe Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) delivered the message that the EU is good for business, but needs more flexibility in the future at the European Parliament today (13 February). At the launch of its European election manifesto, the FSB will highlight how UK firms have benefited from the lifting of trade barriers and free movement of goods and services that stem from the creation of the Single Market. However, the FSB believes the EU needs reform for UK businesses to compete in a global market.

The FSB will be at the heart of the debate to ensure EU policymakers think about the impact on business growth from new legislation. New proposals must pass the ‘Think Small First’ test from the outset.  That way the full benefits of the Single Market and EU membership can be delivered and demonstrated to UK small businesses, many of whom are only just recovering from the recession.

The manifesto sets out what small businesses want candidates to do if elected in three months’ time. FSB members want the next Parliament of the European Union to:

  • ‘Think Small First’ throughout the whole policy cycle by breaking down barriers in the Single Market and reducing the effects of burdensome laws on the smallest businesses.
  • Give small firms the best chance to be successful by creating a culture of entrepreneurship.
  • Ensure important trade deals like the upcoming EU-US negotiations support the growth aspirations of small firms.

FSB National Policy Chairman Mike Cherry said: “We want to see the next Parliament of the European Union champion small businesses. UK firms have benefited from the lifting of trade barriers and the free movement of goods and services that stem from the creation of the Single Market. However, the EU needs to reform further to ensure our businesses are able compete with emerging powers in today’s global economy.

“We want to see measures to accelerate the completion of the Single Market and a more flexible, proportionate approach taken towards regulation that hits small firms hardest, and is often cited by FSB members as a key concern affecting their growth aspirations.”

Aviation/airlines

EU trade chief welcomes EU/US deal: 'With this agreement, we are grounding the Airbus-Boeing dispute'

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In a landmark decision the EU and US have reached an agreement to remove the tariffs each imposed in their long-running dispute over illegal aid to aircraft makers, for a five-year period.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The agreement we have filed now really opens a new chapter in our relationship, because we move from litigation to co-operation on aircraft, after almost 20 years of disputes. It is the longest trade dispute in the history of WTO.”

The EU and US have also adopted a collaborative framework on large civil aircraft. The EU’s Executive Vice President for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said: “We are committed to making this framework work to promote a level playing field to address shared challenges, overcome long standing differences and avoid future litigation.”

The new spirit of co-operation was welcomed by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai: “The US team came to Brussels determined to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to reach an agreement on the long-standing dispute between Boeing and Airbus.”

Chairman of the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament Bernd Lange MEP (S&D, DE) welcomed the agreement: “This is a relief for many sectors on both sides of the Atlantic that have suffered the negative consequences of the dispute. While the sides cleared a landing zone in early March by agreeing to a four-month suspension of tariffs, we were not sure whether the 11 July deadline was sufficient to solve this long-standing dispute.

“While we do not have a final solution yet, I nevertheless strongly welcome this deal. The creation of a working group and a ministerial dialogue on subsidies will ensure we have the right platforms to find a permanent negotiated solution in the future.” Lange added that there was also a new framework to address the challenges posed by large civil aircraft produced in non-market economies, referring principally to China.

Background

In the dispute over illegal aid to Airbus and Boeing, each side levied WTO-authorized retaliatory tariffs against the other. The EU hit €3.4 billion ($4bn) of American products including salmon, cheddar cheese, chocolate and ketchup in November 2021, after the US government had imposed levies on €6.8bn ($7.5bn) of imports - among others, wine, cheese and olive oil - from the EU. In March 2021, the EU and the US announced that they would suspend retaliatory tariffs until 11 July to allow time to negotiate a deal.

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International safety company Bollé announces partnership with Welsh manufacturer to drive international supply of protective eyewear equipment

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Production of a new range of safety eyewear for one of the world's leading names in the industry, Bollé, has begun at a site in Wales. Bollé Safety, a specialist in the development of personal protective equipment (PPE) eyewear, has announced a partnership with Welsh firm, RotoMedical, part of Rototherm Group, which has become the French company’s exclusive UK manufacturer of PPE eyewear for the health-care industry.

More than three million PPE items are set to be produced a month at RotoMedical’s manufacturing base in Port Talbot, South Wales, following the launch of production at the beginning of June. The partnership, which has been praised by Life Sciences Hub Wales, will see products distributed across the UK and Ireland as well as exported to healthcare markets globally, with key regions including Europe, Australia and North America.

RotoMedical’s expansion into the life sciences sector has been supported by Life Sciences Hub Wales, which has worked to supply the business with access to contacts, expertise and advice to help with the expansion.

Ahead of the production launch, senior representatives at Bollé, which has its European headquarters based in Lyon, visited RotoMedical’s manufacturing base in the Welsh valleys to make final product checks and confirm certifications.

Bollé Safety Sales Vice President Ian Walbeoff said: “At Bollé Safety, our mission has always been to protect the eyesight of healthcare professionals across the world, even in the most challenging environments, ensuring they are able to safely work on the frontline. At the heart of our brand is a genuine desire to continually innovate and use the best available technology to create the highest quality products, and our partnership with RotoMedical will play a key role in achieving this.

“Combining both our companies’ long-standing legacies and expertise will enable us to collaboratively design, manufacture and assemble products that put innovation at the fore and set a new global industry standard when it comes to performance, excellence and sustainability”.

Rototherm Group, a company dating back to the 1880s, specialises in the production of industrial measuring instruments. During the pandemic, the firm pivoted to also produce medical masks and protective face shields for health and care workers under the brand RotoMedical.

Since the pandemic’s arrival in the UK, the Port Talbot manufacturer has increased production capacity of plastic face visors from a 1,000 per day to 250,000 every week. That rapid success has catalysed further expansion into the life sciences sector, as RotoMedical has progressed to produce BSI certified Type IIR face masks, which are surgical grade and designed for use by healthcare professionals.

Rototherm Group Business Development Director Tarkan Conger said: “Our ambition has always been to continue to expand and develop the business, and in turn to create more jobs for the local economy. The partnership with Bollé will enable us to build on our industrial expertise and innovation as we embed ourselves in the life sciences sector, expanding into new manufacturing capabilities and markets.”

Following the supply contract with Bollé, the company added safety goggles to its remit, for which it has created a dedicated automated production line. The Bollé face shields will be manufactured by RotoMedical, Rototherm's medical and protective equipment division, using locally sourced raw materials.

Rototherm Group Managing Director Oliver Conger said: “We’re proud to be an SME in Wales, and the drive is to continue securing partnerships with other companies in Wales and internationally. With the help of Life Sciences Hub Wales, we have been able to establish links throughout Welsh industry, and we’re committed to further growing our global presence. We’ve invested everything we’ve got into the local economy and into the business, which will continue as we expand internationally.”

Bollé Safety Sales Vice President Ian Walbeoff added: “This partnership marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Bollé Safety in Wales and the UK as we continue to grow our presence in the country and invest in local communities. It will help us to further our capabilities developing products with sustainability at their core as we will work with locally sourced materials, proudly boasting the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp of excellence.

“The capabilities at Rototherm are testament to the highly skilled manufacturing workforce available here in Wales, and we look forward to playing a part in further driving manufacturing excellence from the region.”

Speaking about the new partnership between Rototherm and Bollé Safety, Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales said: “Life Sciences Hub Wales is proud to be supporting Rototherm’s journey into the life sciences sector and welcome the expanding international connections. We congratulate them for the work they have done to support the UK during a time of great need and on securing this contract will Bollé which will see these successes continue.”

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European Social Fund: Fighting poverty and unemployment

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The improved European Social Fund+ programme focuses on fighting child poverty and youth unemployment in Europe, Society.

On 8 June, the European Parliament adopted new rules to tackle unemployment and poverty in the EU in the wake of the pandemic crisis. The renewed and simplified European Social Fund, known as the European Social Fund+, will focus on children and youth.

With a budget of €88 billion for 2021-2027, the fund will help EU countries provide access to free education, decent food and housing for children. It will also support investments in apprenticeships and vocational training for unemployed young people.

Many people are concerned about social and employment issues. The fund will promote social inclusion for those suffering job losses and income reduction and will provide food and basic assistance to the most deprived. What is the European Social Fund?  

  • It is the EU's oldest financial instrument to invest in people, improve job opportunities for workers and raise their standard of living.  
  • Funding is distributed to EU countries and regions to finance operational programmes and employment-related projects, from helping to create work to addressing educational gaps, poverty and social inclusion.
  • Beneficiaries are usually people, but funding can also be used to help companies and organizations. 
More flexibility, simplicity and efficiency

The updated European Social Fund Plus merges a number of existing funds and programmes, pooling their resources:

This allows for more integrated and targeted support. For instance, people affected by poverty will benefit from a better mix of material assistance and comprehensive social support.

Because of these more flexible and simpler rules, it should be easier for people and organizations to benefit from the fund.

Priorities

The European Social Fund+ will invest in three main areas:

  • Education, training and lifelong learning
  • Effectiveness of labour markets and equal access to quality employment
  • Social inclusion and combatting poverty

The fund also supports initiatives enabling people to find better employment or work in a different EU region or country. This includes developing new skills for new types of jobs required by the green and digital transitions.

Read more about social policies 

European Social Fund+  

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