Only 6 more days until the European elections. From 22-25 May, millions of people across Europe will have the opportunity to vote for their representatives in the European Parliament. We checked in with our Lilly colleagues in Europe, to see what their take is on the European elections, and what the key themes are in their countries. Today, we have 5 questions for Marcel Lechanteur, the General Manager of Lilly France and Benelux.
1. LillyPadEU: In France, what are the key themes debated in the run up to the European Elections?
Marcel: Unfortunately the debate about the European elections starts timidly in France, and I it focuses mainly on the European Union's legitimacy or France’s place in the EU. To me, it is obvious: Europe is an asset for France. Therefore, I hope that the last days of the electoral campaign will be an opportunity to think further into the guidelines to be given to major European public policy. Today, the significant issue is to create favourable growth conditions, since it is growth that can properly generate additional employment. In this context I believe there is an urgent need to put companies and their results at the heart of our global economic reflexion.
2. LillyPadEU: When looking at the current debate on healthcare in France, what, if any, is the impact of the EU campaign?
Marcel: Health, in terms of organisation of health systems, remains mainly a national competence of Member States. Hence, there is very little room for this subject in the electoral debate. Nevertheless, the issue of convergence of social systems is seen by many of our citizens as a key condition for the proper functioning of the European single market. For many years, the French have been waiting for an alignment of Europe on the French social system. I feel they are now ready to move forward concerning the cost efficiency of our system, and to get its functioning closer to our main neighbours.
Moreover, in that context, the government has just announced a savings plan of € 50 billion over three years. This plan includes especially measures aimed at saving 10 billion euros on health insurance expenditures which would directly impact our business. The pharmaceutical industry actors are willing to play their role in the national effort. Nevertheless, the effort required is unprecedented, since around half of savings is expected to rest on them.
In my opinion, these considerable efforts should be directed towards structural reforms for the improvement of our healthcare system, rather than on hindering the growth of private activity creating employment and developing innovation for our patients.
3. LillyPadEU: And how does Europe impact our industry in and beyond France?
Marcel: As economic problems persist, Europe is likely to play an increasing role in our industry, in France and around the world. First, setting out the regulatory framework, Europe should preserve a vibrant pharmaceutical sector as an essential precondition to ensure a high level of public health protection, a competitive knowledge-based economy and to be able to continue to innovate and invest in a stable environment. This is why, I sincerely hope for the establishment of a real integrated industrial policy and a defined strategy with all actors concerned at European level.
In addition, we need to focus on investment and innovation, by mobilising all the levers available at EU level, in favour of European companies' competitiveness
(R & D, employment / training, regulatory, industrial attractiveness).
Finally, because the growth of our industry has become more difficult in domestic markets, our industries are increasingly turning to high growth and highly profitable emerging markets. Therefore, the EU must help to effectively fight against the tariffs and non-tariff barriers. For instance, companies expect EU assistance with the protection of intellectual property in third countries, and a mutual and proportionate requirement in market access.
4. LillyPadEU: France is an important country in Europe. How do you see its role in Europe, and, the role of Europe in the world?
Marcel: The natural role of France cannot be anything but a driving force for the European Union, together with Germany. Having said that, in order to continue to assume this role, France must pursue and boost its efforts for attractiveness, competitiveness and visibility, and must give itself greater room for maneuver for investment.
This major investment in the largest production site of the Lilly group is part of its global strategy to meet the growing global demand for insulin. This investment also shows that France, despite the specific constraints weighing on the labour market, can remain an attractive country for investments in high value-added activities. This is why it is so urgent that France recreates a favorable environment to attract investment and excellence business. It is only with such a strong economic and cutting-edge performance that France will play a pioneering role into the European Union.
As for the role of Europe in the world, I believe that many elements such as its demographic weight, its economic maturity or its cultural role are primarily a pole of stability in the world. Today, except Europe and North America, all regions in the world are subject to high factors of instability. Also, the European Union represents a stable, peaceful and "predictable" territory, which is favorable for trade, for innovation and for growth. In light of all these advantages, Europe plays and must continue to play a role of "compass" on the international scene.
5. LillyPadEU: As a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry, what top 3 health issues would you like to see addressed in Europe?
Marcel: Europe will have the opportunity to shape, in the five coming years, its public policies on fundamental issues such as healthcare, research, innovation, competitiveness and trade policy.
For instance, the ageing population is a real social concern that affects our entire continent. On the one hand, it is a health issue, and on the other hand, it’s a major economic challenge for the balance of welfare accounts. In this regard, the European Union should develop a strong coordination which encourages and helps Member States to tackle the consequences of population ageing on our society.
Besides, in response to the development of several new diseases, affecting an increasingly number of people, such as diabetes and the Alzheimer's disease, Europe must strengthen joint actions on the cutting-edge of scientific disciplines, and should in this context take measures to foster joint research on these diseases at the European level.
Finally, Europe is a single market where legislation should be simple, coherent and unified. The simplification of the regulatory framework is one of the critical key drivers of competitiveness of European business. It is therefore essential to reduce as much as possible any administrative burden or redundant bureaucracy, which would jeopardise the proper functioning of the market and economic and business growth.