Sajjad Karim’s Position
Sajjad Karim has been in the European Parliament (EP) since 2004 and is a representative of the United Kingdom. He supported the perspective of the UK Conservative Party and was appointed as the Legal Affairs Spokesperson for the Conservative Group in the EP in 2009 (and reappointed in 2014) (About Sajjad 2019). Sajjad is a full member of the Legal Affairs Committee and is a substitute member of the Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee, as well as the Industry, Research, and Energy Committee. In 2011, he became the EP rapporteur on a report that was concerned with the reduction of the legislative burden. In 2013, he worked on the empowerment of member-state legislature, giving them more power to resist unhelpful regulations or challenge inappropriate laws. Sajjad Karim firmly believes that SMEs are the backbone of the European economy, so such companies should be supported by the European Parliament (Q&A with Sajjad Karim 2019). The member of the EP also advocates for free trade deals that can ensure the improvement of the trade relationship between the European Union and other countries such as the USA or China.
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Trade policies can be regarded as one of the pillars of the European Union as these regulations ensure the sustainable development of trade relationships between business and between member-states. The implementation of numerous trade policies led to the harmonization of technical standards associated with quality, packaging, and labeling in the internal EU trade. These policies boosted the growth of national economies as offered products and services became more competitive due to the improved quality of their products. This topic has been chosen as trade policies serve as one of the pillars for the economic success of member-states, but the nationalist trends within the European countries can hinder the progress of the European Union and have a negative influence on every member-state.
Trade policies introduced by the European Parliament are sometimes generalized to fit all the member-states. On the one hand, this generalization tends to have a negative outcome as the regulations can be ineffective in certain countries. On the other hand, local governments and certain groups in European countries express their concerns as to the value of adopting the EU legislature. Such events as Brexit, as well as the situation around it, shows that Europeans’ views on the very idea of the union and its impact on their countries’ economy are still rather conflicting. Hence, it is essential to pay more attention to trade in the EU to facilitate economic growth in the region.
As mentioned above, Sajjad Karim supports the ideas of the liberalization of trade between member-states and advocates for giving more power to national governments. He favors the idea of the free market and limited governmental control. The member of the EP concentrates on the need to pay specific attention to SMEs in the European Union garment industry (Karim 2017). Sajjad emphasizes that this industry requires particular attention as its turnover was over EUR 160 billion in 2017, and it involved approximately 1.7 million employees at that period (Karim 2017). The member of the European Parliament also adds that the vast majority of the companies in the industry are SMEs. He points at the need to provide financial assistance to SMEs operating in the European Union market that is one of the largest consumers of textile and garment products.
Karim (2017) argues that national governments often try to adopt EU regulations while concentrating on protecting their home markets. The EU legislature is sometimes regarded as inefficient and harmful to local companies. This approach leads to the introduction of ineffective national policies that add confusion and unnecessary bureaucracy or even a financial burden for businesses. National governments implement all the policies even if they are unnecessary or destructive. It is pivotal to empower member-states to choose among the legislation offered by the European Parliament and implement the most viable regulations.
As mentioned above, SMEs have leveraged the development of the EU economy. The overall value-added generated by SMEs in the non-financial sector was over €4 trillion in 2017 (European Commission 2019). To compare, large EU enterprises generated €3,168 trillion in the same year. SMEs employ approximately 66% of the EU labor force, and the employment rates have been increasing steadily throughout the past decade. The share of value-added generated by EU SMEs in different sectors of the economy varies with over 20% in retail trade and 20% in manufacturing (European Commission 2019). These figures justify Sajjad’s interest in the manufacturing industry and the functioning of SMEs in this sector of the EU economy. It is noteworthy that Sajjad reveals the benefits of such trade policy as applied to the entire European Union, but the focus on the UK businesses is still apparent (Q&A with Sajjad Karim 2019). The European Parliament member stresses that the Conservative Group attempts to cater to the needs of all member-states, including the UK, providing equal opportunities for all EU SMEs.
The policy aimed at supporting SMEs operating in the EU garment industry is not confined to the provision of financial aid and giving more rights to national governments. Sajjad Karim advocates for the focus on social responsibility, especially when it comes to relationships with non-EU manufacturing companies (Karim 2017). Transparency and appropriate data collection regarding human rights, environmental issues, and labor performance are critical for the sustainable evolvement and proper functioning of EU SMEs. The need to ensure appropriate working conditions for the employees in manufacturing companies is justified by the focus of the public opinion prevailing in EU countries. Non-discriminatory labor regulations and complete transparency of partnerships have become relevant for Europeans who want to know about the background of the products they consume.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that EU trade policies can be regarded as the legislature contributing to the development of the region. Sajjad Karim advocates for the continuous support of EU SMEs that constitute the majority of all businesses operating in the European Union, especially when it comes to the garment industry. The member of the European Parliament believes that the proper functioning of these enterprises can ensure the economic growth of every state member and the entire Union.
The overall economic situation in European countries is rather alarming as the world can plunge into an upcoming recession or even a new financial crisis. Many tend to think that such trends are associated with the irresponsible measures undertaken by multinationals and member-states governments. However, the problem has many facets and needs complex solutions. Small- and medium-sized companies contribute considerably to the development of the European Union and every member-state. These businesses have a substantial potential to help the EU economy overcome the anticipated issues. According to the European Commission (2019), SMEs accounted for almost 50% of the total growth in the non-financial business sector in 2017. These businesses also increased the employment rate by over 50% in the same year. The export of goods by EU SMEs grew by 20% between 2012 and 2016. The economic benefits of these trends are well-pronounced as SMEs create new jobs, pay taxes, and become the drivers in various industries.
However, the legislation burden prevents many prospective companies from growing and increasing their revenues, as well as providing significant funds to the EU budget and the budgets of member-states. SMEs have to balance the EU legislature and their national regulations that are often characterized by a high degree of bureaucracy (Karim 2017). It is essential to facilitate the empowerment of these players by introducing laws that can minimize the restrictions related to national markets.
The existing beliefs regarding the failure of the European Union as an area facilitating free trade between European countries are erroneous. The absence of countries’ boundaries for the flow of goods and services has contributed considerably to the development of trade in the region. The competitiveness of European goods has enhanced due to EU businesses’ compliance with stiff quality standards. However, these positive changes are often slowed down by national regulations and EU laws that fail to address the peculiarities and needs of specific countries. It is essential to introduce EU laws that would ensure substantial flexibility for member-states. SMEs should also receive financial aid from the EU budget, as well as the support of international financial organizations.
About Sajjad 2019, Web.
European Commission 2019, Annual report on European SMEs, Web.
Karim, S 2017, Opinion, Web.
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Q&A with Sajjad Karim 2019, Web.