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The purpose of this paper is to explain the competitiveness obstacles that European businesses face, which, if not addressed, limit the potential of the EU economy, particularly in terms of the Lisbon goals. Adopting a broadly defined compliance‐centred approach, the paper seeks to identify how some significant competitiveness obstacles of European business might best be addressed.
In‐depth interviews in 44 multinational and medium‐sized companies were used to investigate compliance requirements, the tools and methods used to manage compliance, compliance‐related obstacles to competitiveness. A survey of four European Information Centres was conducted to evaluate their effectiveness in achieving their stated mission.
Organisations lacked systems to proactively manage compliance to allow them to deepen or sustain their competitive positioning. Companies were concerned with the reliability and comprehensiveness of reports on compliance risks and how these could be related to prioritised strategic goals. A gap was identified between regulation production and dissemination, and conversion of regulatory information into knowledge used to gain and maintain business advantage. This gap is inadequately filled by business supports, including the European Information Centres.
The business‐focused approach to managing compliance suggested here could increase the competitiveness of EU businesses and the EIC Network is potentially well positioned to play its part in the value‐adding process of both the providers and consumers of EU information.