Edition: International | Greek

Home » Europe

The voice of Austrian business in Vienna, Brussels and beyond: Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ)

This is the second article in the EBR series: 60 Years EUROCHAMBRES and the role of the national chambers of commerce

By: EBR - Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2018

text size [–] [+]
The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber welcomes the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’ as a comprehensive and important policy effort in the field of education and training. The lack of basic skills, skills shortages and mismatches are among the main concerns of businesses and particularly SMEs throughout Europe. The need to up-skill the European workforce is urgent and requires comprehensive actions. Education and training systems need to respond better to labour market needs and deliver higher and more relevant skills.
The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber welcomes the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’ as a comprehensive and important policy effort in the field of education and training. The lack of basic skills, skills shortages and mismatches are among the main concerns of businesses and particularly SMEs throughout Europe. The need to up-skill the European workforce is urgent and requires comprehensive actions. Education and training systems need to respond better to labour market needs and deliver higher and more relevant skills.

MORE ON Europe

by Franziska Annerl*

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKO) represents the interests of more than 500,000 Austrian companies.

Every single person who is entitled to operate an independent business venture in crafts and trades, commerce, industry, mining, finance, banking and insurance, transport, information and communication, broadcasting, tourism and leisure, as well as other services, is a member of the Federal Economic Chamber under Austrian law. 

As the voice of Austrian business, WKO is committed to forward-looking policies which benefit the economy e.g. tax relief, cutting red tape. WKO is also a modern service provider and offers fast expert advice on topics from labour laws to customs information. Last but not least, WKO supports Austrian companies with expert knowledge through educational facilities.

The Economic Chamber Organisation sets the agenda in representing the interests of Austrian business and successfully defends the interests of Austrian companies. The Economic Chamber Organisation is a leading force in policymaking at the level of industries and regions, as well as at national and EU level. WKO is the first port of call for members who need information and advice. WKO initiates, moderates and partners regional, national and global economic promotion activities for the benefit of the Austrian economy. 

Rapid economic and societal change means that entrepreneurs and business owners must keep adjusting their strategies. Therefore, they need access to the latest knowledge and technologies. The Economic Chamber Organisation is the most important training partner for the benefit of its members: It actively spreads knowledge related to every facet of the economy and makes sure that expert knowledge is available to its members anywhere in the world, around-the-clock and in a straightforward manner (WKO.at). 

Austria enjoys a particularly well developed system of co-operation between the major economic interest groups: The system of co-operation on economic and social issues, commonly referred to as “social partnership”, is a voluntary arrangement. The social partnership does not deal with industrial relations alone - what distinguishes the Austrian social partnership is that it extends to practically all areas of economic and social policy. Approximately 90-95% of private-sector employees are covered by collective agreements. Collective agreements are usually negotiated on the employer side by the relevant sub-organisations of WKO and on the employee side by the Trade Union Federation. 

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is of course also very active on the European level: The EU office of the WKÖ in Brussels acts as an interface between the WKO and the institutions of the European Union and works together with the most important associations at European level. It maintains close contacts with the relevant Commission services and Members of the European Parliament. In addition, the EU Office has access to a diverse network of contacts in European institutions and associations. Since January 2018, WKÖ President Christoph Leitl is not only the voice of Austrian businesses in Brussels. As President of EUROCHAMBRES he also speaks for European companies. 

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber has dealt with the topic of Better Regulation at national and European level for many years. Surveys show that Austrian and European companies face big problems with red tape and bureaucracy. To foster competitiveness, growth and employment European business needs a level playing field. The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber appreciates all efforts towards smart regulation at European level to create a business friendly regulatory environment. 

All European institutions and Member States have to work together. Overregulation is an obstacle for growth and employment. The business structure all over Europe and especially in Austria is dominated by SMEs. Therefore, WKO believes that it is necessary to increasingly focus on SMEs during the legislative process. “Think Small First” has to be the guiding principle and should be applied to all draft proposals. 

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber welcomes the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’ as a comprehensive and important policy effort in the field of education and training. The lack of basic skills, skills shortages and mismatches are among the main concerns of businesses and particularly SMEs throughout Europe. The need to up-skill the European workforce is urgent and requires comprehensive actions. Education and training systems need to respond better to labour market needs and deliver higher and more relevant skills. 

These are essential to sustain Europe’s competitiveness and enhance job creation, growth, productivity, innovation, and social inclusion. The lack of basic skills, skills shortages and mismatches are among the main concerns for businesses and especially SMEs throughout Europe. The priority is to make education systems more responsive to the labour market, and ensure that the skills taught are relevant for people’s lives and for the economy. WKÖ welcomes in particular the intention to strengthen Vocational Education and Training (VET) and to improve its quality. 

The digital transformation concerns all sectors of the economy and offers new opportunities in almost all areas of life. The Austrian Economic Chamber supports a future-oriented, business-friendly policy that promotes the competitiveness of companies and Austria as a business location. WKO therefore promotes the use of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) according to the needs of our members. The ongoing acquisition of new knowledge, new skills and qualifications is more important than ever. A modern ICT infrastructure is a significant location factor. ICT applications provide the basis to make processes in all industries more efficient and to develop new products and services.

Improved economic and trade relations with partner countries ensure more growth, employment and prosperity, especially for an export-driven country as Austria. This includes measures against protectionism in third countries, a stronger cooperation between the EU and trade partners in the form of negotiations for trade agreements as well as institutionalised talks to prevent trade conflicts. Ongoing negotiations for free trade agreements – e.g. with Japan, Mercosur or Australia - have to be finalised quickly. 

In order to make European Economic and Monetary Union more stable, resilient and competitive, a stronger integration of economic, fiscal and financial policy is necessary. The consistent application and enforcement of existing instruments is important, for example within the framework of the European Semester. The shift of competence from national to European level is only reasonable if all Member States adhere without exception to the EMU rules. EMU cannot be a simple transfer union. The principle of economic self-responsibility must be the focus. Member States have not yet sufficiently implemented necessary structural reforms. WKO therefore supports a stronger link between national reforms and the use of EU funds. 


*Franziska Annerl is Press Officer of WKÖ EU Office Brussels 

Europe

8 reasons to care about the EU’s new data-protection rules

In recent weeks, you may have noticed pop-ups appearing in your browser or emails asking you to agree to a company’s new privacy policy or terms of service

Business

How millennials became the world’s most powerful consumers

They are the biggest global generation — and their choices ??are upending business? from the US to China

Editor’s Column

A ‘Union’ in disarray

By: N. Peter Kramer

Commission President Juncker announced an ‘informal working meeting’ on Sunday June 24 to discuss the migration and asylum problems

MARKET INDICES


Live World Indices are Powered by Forexpros - The Leading Financial Portal.

Magazine

View 2/2018 2018 Digital edition

Current Issue

2/2018 2018

View past issues
Subscribe
Advertise
Digital edition

All contents © Copyright EMG Strategic Consulting Ltd. 1997-2018. All Rights Reserved   |   Home Page  |   Disclaimer  |   Website by Theratron