THE GATHERING CLOUDS OVER THE EUROPEAN UNION

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Brexit is just one reason why the European Union should be concerned, says Bruegel’s Guntram Wolff. Between what he calls an “antiquated agricultural policy” and a lack of preparedness in keeping its economy safe, Wolff says there is a lot of work to be done. In part two of our interview at the Europa Forum in Lucerne last week, he laid out some of the biggest threats, but also opportunities, for the EU.

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The gathering clouds over the European Union
Brexit is just one reason why the European Union should be concerned, says Bruegel’s Guntram Wolff. Between what he calls an “antiquated agricultural policy” and a lack of preparedness in keeping its economy safe, Wolff says there is a lot of work to be done. In part two of our interview at the Europa Forum in Lucerne last week, he laid out some of the biggest threats, but also opportunities, for the EU.

Relations with Switzerland far from the top of EU agenda, says Wolff
When it comes to relations with Switzerland, Guntram Wolff, director of European think tank Bruegel, says the new European Commission leadership has bigger fish to fry. “It’s just not on the top of the agenda for the top brass,” he says. Wolff highlights the EU’s top three issues and explains what Switzerland needs to know about what really matters to the European Union.

Airbus says it has a good deal for fighter jets, but will it matter?
Companies including Airbus and Boeing are vying for the chance to replace Switzerland’s fighter jets. Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, is confident his company’s offer is the best one on the table. But that may not matter if Swiss voters reject the purchase in 2020. Hoke lays out the “very suitable offer” and gives a glimpse into Airbus’ involvement in the collaboration between the ESA and NASA to get back on the moon by 2024.

Roland Decorvet on the “biggest lie in the corporate world”
Roland Decorvet, the former CEO and chairman of Nestlé China, says that while his 20 years at the food giant shaped him as a leader, his experience as chairman of Mercy Ships Switzerland has taught him “what not to do.” In the final part of our interview, he shares his views on leadership and talks about what he calls “the biggest lie in the corporate world.”

Decorvet: Africa needs “capitalism with a purpose”
Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods, says his company is not just about helping Africa, but rather trying to industrialize the continent. “We’re not giving handouts for people to survive,” he says. “We’re creating jobs, factories, and we’re helping farmers supply their crops to us at a good price.” In part three, Decorvet, the ex-Nestlé China head, talks about his goal to make Africa more self-sustainable.

Africa is the new China, says Roland Decorvet
Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods, sees similarities between 1990s China and the Africa of today. He cites Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa as an example, saying it looks like Beijing back in 1992. “It has strong government involvement, infrastructure being built, and a subway many European cities don’t have,” says Decorvet. In part two, he calls for more meaningful investment in Africa and talks about the role Switzerland, and Europe overall, must play to support growth.

The world’s largest private hospital ship has a bigger one on the way
Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has operated in 75 countries, bringing life-saving surgeries and medicine to those without access to such care. Roland Decorvet, chairman of Mercy Ships Switzerland, refers to the ship as a “floating village” that reaches “the forgotten, the poorest of the poor,” and requires thousands of volunteers and millions of dollars each year. Decorvet says an even bigger USD 130 million version of the ship is coming soon.

Wolford aims to have 50 percent of products in circular economy by 2025
Wolford has been developing sustainable products since 2013 without any turnover, says director Andreas Röhrich. But the hefty investment has paid off in the form of a coveted certification from Cradle to Cradle, a global measure of sustainable products. Röhrich was a presenter at the Good Brand Guru event in Zurich last week to show how Wolford is marrying lingerie with sustainability.

“Our competitor is the naked leg,” says Wolford exec Röhrich
Austrian hosiery company Wolford is yet another in a long line of apparel brands feeling the pinch of slowing sales. Andreas Röhrich, director of product development, innovation and sustainability, says its biggest competition is not Swiss brands like Fogal and Falke, but rather a shift in trends. Röhrich says a foray into the Chinese market, and a renewed focus on innovation and sustainability, will help boost Wolford in the years ahead.

EU “getting rather impatient” with Switzerland, says Matthiessen
The framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU has been a decade in the making. “It’s been 10 years of discussion, five years of negotiation, and a year since there’s been a text on the table,” ambassador Michael Matthiessen points out. In part two of our interview, he warns of potential consequences, including no new market access as well as an “erosion” of ties between both parties.

“Europe is back,” warns EU ambassador to Switzerland
Michael Matthiessen, EU ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, has a message for the world: The European Union is back in top form. “The EU has been a bit too nice,” says Matthiessen, who warns that we will see a more “assertive” Europe on the world stage. With the new leadership of the European Commission set to take over on December 1, Matthiessen declares, “We are the European Union. We have European values. We want to do it the European way.“

WEF: Swiss finance sector one of the most advanced in cybersecurity
Switzerland’s neutrality lends itself well to hosting open discussions around cybersecurity, says Amy Jordan, cybersecurity delivery lead at the WEF. In part two, she says that while the country “falls somewhere in the middle” when it comes to combating cybercrime, its financial sector is one of the most advanced in the world. “They are aware of the significant impact it can have on their bottom line,” Jordan says.