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The Management Board of voestalpine AG

Ladies and Gentlemen: (handwriting)

Washington, October 31, 2013. It is day one of the two-day “Select USA Investment Summit,” which is taking place for the first time. In addition to appearances by representatives of major corporations, it includes high-level US-government officials from Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Secretary of State John Kerry—and President Barack Obama. Every single speaker articulates a passionate commitment to the USA as a competitive business location, in particular for industry—motivating and demonstrating trust in its strengths and its future. As proof that this is not merely lip service but actual reality, the President not only talks about American industrial companies returning to the US, but about big-name international corporations who have in recent years learned to increasingly appreciate these US strengths and who are investing in the USA—including European corporations, voestalpine among them.

Whatever opinion one has of the USA—especially from a European perspective many things merit discussion, from its intelligence apparatus that has become an end in itself to the bashing of the German economy because of its strong exports to its dubious problem-solving competence with regard to fundamental, national dilemmas, such as their sovereign debt—there is one thing that cannot be denied: consistency when it comes to securing its own position on the global playing field, whether at the political, the military, or the economic level.

And how does Europe compare in the bitterly serious game that will decide the future of the next generations? Politically, it has become meaningless at the global level (at best, a few EU member states still have some residual vestiges of power long faded). Militarily, it is externally driven through NATO. And now, the European Union under its current leadership is on the best way to gamble away its last, still somewhat intact position of power in the global struggle for the future, namely its economic competence.

Pitted against an America that is consistently courting investors, a Japan that after many years is again marked by broad-based participation in global competition due to Abenomics, and an increasingly confident China whose 7% growth rate is being successfully managed politically, the European Union is giving its economic backbone, the real economy, less and less room to create a competitive future. Environmental and climate policies that negate what is actually feasible, an energy policy that hardly deserves its name (after all, every single member state is eager to define “climate change” as they please), costs for government and social services that exact the highest average tax rates worldwide—all of this is hardly the stuff that the future of an economically successful continent is made of. However, anyone who believes that the solution is a return to individual nation states and the elimination of the euro is a priori robbing Europe of any future it may have, for each individual economy would be too small and too vulnerable, both politically and economically.

The time-frame is very tight to steer developments in the right direction, but hope is still alive that others will assume leadership of the European Union for whom this continent and its future are truly important.

Linz, November 4, 2013

The Management Board






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