Breakfast debate : How policy impacts growing companies

On December 10, MEP Burkhard Balz, Vice-Chair of the Long-term investment and reindustrialisation Intergroup of the European Parliament, hosted a breakfast debate on how policy impacts growing companies in partnership with Invest Europe and the Invest Week, in the presence of Frédéric Mazzella, co-founder and CEO of major European success story, carpooling service, BlaBlaCar, and David Rubenstein, world-renowned investor, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, as well as Members of the European Parliament, including Dominique Riquet, Chair of the intergroup, officials from the European Commission, and representatives of the industrial and the financial sector and of the civil society.

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Download the list of participants

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Moderator:

Burkhard Balz MEP, Vice-Chair of the Long Term Investment Intergroup

Speakers:

David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group
Frédéric Mazzella, founder of BlaBlaCar
Dr. Bert Van Roosebeke, researcher from the Centre for European Policy

Michael Collins, CEO of Invest Europe, the association for private equity, venture capital and infrastructure investors

Alexander Schindler, President of the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA)

Niall Bohan, Head of Unit for the Capital Markets Union at the European Commission’s DG FISMA


World-renowned investor, David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, and Frédéric Mazzella, founder of a major European success story, the carpooling service BlaBlaCar, were special guests at this debate on Europe’s approach on how policy impacts Europe’s growing companies, hosted by Invest Europe and the European Parliament’s crossparty Long-Term Investment Intergroup. They discussed the issues with MEPs, including Burkhard Balz, Commission officials, companies and academics.

  • The EU urgently needs to address its long term investment funding gap, with alternative investment such as private equity and venture capital

  • The EU is suffering from a lack of funding for infrastructure, the energy transition and the scaling-up of start-ups.

  • Getting rid of regulatory barriers is a must to attract long term investment into the EU.

MEP Burkhard Balz opened by stressing that the EU urgently needs more private investment and to leverage finance to encourage start-up development. Building on this, Invest Europe CEO Michael Collins said that the US raises five times more than the EU does in venture capital and that it is important to make things easier for long term investors by getting rid of regulatory disincentives.

David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, said that “it would be helpful if Europe had rules that make it possible for global firms to raise capital in Europe”, citing issues with private placement in some member states. He added that it would be good for Europe if it were easier to raise capital, invest capital and deliver returns to investors. Whilst conceding that “this is not easy to do”, he concluded that if this could be achieved, Europe “would be an even more significant economy in the 21st century”.

For Frédéric Mazzella, founder of the carpooling service BlaBlaCar, “growing a company in the US is like a 100 metre race while in Europe it is like running the 110 metres hurdles race” as “you have to adapt your business to different rules – different VAT, different currencies, different languages”. “Each time it is like creating a new company. I’m in favour of a more unified regulatory environment especially for digital companies that need to reach scale fast. Adapting a product to 28 markets slows us down,” he said.

Alexander Schindler, President of the European Fund and Asset Management Association, argued that Europe urgently needs to harmonise its regulatory environment and its capital markets. He cited the different information requirements of national authorities as a difficulty to be surmounted and the importance of financial education of its citizens.

Niall Bohan, the Head of Unit for the Capital Markets Union at the European Commission’s DG FISMA, said that “funding long term investment is becoming an existential crisis”. He said Europe has an “Achilles heel” in terms of meeting the demand for capital to scale up and expand small companies, which create two thirds of jobs in the EU, and referenced the Commission’s drive to create a venture capital fund of funds to draw private capital back into Europe.