“The recommendations […] aim to pave the way
to increased regulatory and investment cooperation between the EU and Japan”

Ideas for a closer future

EU–Japan Business Round Table presents its recommendations to Prime Minister Abe


November 2019 Special Report / Text by Toby Waters

The EU–Japan Business Round Table (BRT) was founded in 1999 as a way for multinational businesses, as well as other organisations, from both the EU and Japan to discuss how to improve and increase trade and investment between the two trading powers. Member organisations on the Japanese side include Fujitsu, NEC, Nissan and Sony, and, on the EU-side, firms such as Airbus, Bayer, IKEA and Siemens. The European Business Council in Japan (EBC) has been a member of the BRT since the beginning.

This year’s recommendations were presented at the BRT’s 21st annual meeting in Brussels on 15 May. They were formally submitted to European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen at the conclusion of the BRT. And on 18 September 2019, they were handed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by the Japan-side co-chair Masaki Sakuyama, chairman at Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, and Michael Mroczek, chairman of the EBC, who was there on behalf of EU-side co-chair Ben Story, strategic marketing director at Rolls-Royce.

“These recommendations come from the industry leaders of Europe and Japan and they are the first ones released since the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement [EPA] came into force on 1 February this year,” Mroczek told Abe, “a date that marked a spectacular achievement for your administration and the beginning of a new economic era between Japan and the EU.”

Among the many topics discussed at the BRT were how to effectively implement the EPA, the need to help more SMEs take advantage of the agreement, the importance of increasing cooperation in third markets, and how to promote free and reliable data distribution.

“The recommendations we are handing over to you today aim to pave the way to increased regulatory and investment cooperation between the EU and Japan,” Mroczek said, “as well as placing our nations ahead in the fight against climate change and increased protectionism.”

According to Mroczek, Abe gladly accepted the recommendations and made a few remarks on the success of the EPA so far.

Speaking in Japanese, Sakuyama thanked Abe for his leadership and said that the desire of the BRT was for the partnership between Japan and the EU to grow even closer. He also stated that he hoped both governments would continue to work together with the business community for the sake of global economic development.

In his speech, Mroczek made it clear how eager European companies are to work with the Japanese government to further strengthen the ties between the EU and Japan.

“The entire European business community in Japan remains at your disposal,” he said, “to facilitate the work of your administration in further increasing the cooperation between Europe and Japan in a wide range of fields to enhance the closeness of our societies, companies and people.”