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General Electric boss to Europe: Open your borders, create jobs

By CNN wire staff
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
  • GE Europe chief Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco said EU nations where unemployment is rife "are losing a generation."
  • Beccalli-Falco called for a more "united Europe" and for the continent to "open the borders" for young people.
  • The US Chamber of Commerce has calculated that the removal of all tariffs could add $180 billion.

(CNN) -- Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.

Speaking with CNN's Max Foster, Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco, chief executive officer of GE Europe, said: "You have some areas of Europe where unemployment is 30, 40, 50%," he added, "that drives the thinking that if you go nationalistic you're going to solve the problem."

Instead, Beccalli-Falco argued that Europe needed to open its borders to young people looking to escape chronic unemployment.

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The CEO, who oversees the company's 84,000 employees in the region, called for a more "united Europe."

He said: "If the young Spanish people who are without a job today, they can find a job in the UK, they could find a job in Germany... we have the possibility of letting people move around and finding a job without all the bureaucracy."

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Despite the eurozone posting a meagre 0.1% growth in the third-quarter Beccalli-Falco believes that "any kind of fragmentation" in Europe's political and economic union would only damage growth further.

He said: "It builds walls and you never had economic growth when you had walls around your region or your country."

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Nations in the eurozone, Europe's monetary union, are still reeling from the fallout of a debt crisis, spanning four years. The hardest hit nations, Spain and Greece, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Ireland, are suffering from jobless rates at record highs.

The latest figures available for Spain and Greece put youth unemployment over 50% with many young people choosing to migrate to northern Europe, where job prospects are considerably better.

Solving Europe's youth unemployment

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Beccalli-Falco's comments come as the eurozone makes plans for a single supervisor for the region's 6,000 banks and a fiscal union that would tie national budgets closer together.

The GE Europe chief also said that Europe must use its clout as the world's largest trading bloc to forge closer relationships with some of the world's other economic giants.

In February, the U.S. and the European Union announced that they would begin talks on a multi-trillion dollar free-trade pact -- known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership -- to boost economic growth.

President Barack Obama and EU leaders are hoping an agreement to reduce trade barriers will support millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Beccalli-Falco said that politicians need to push through the agreement as soon as possible, adding: "I hope only that we are not going to waste too much time in the details of an agreement like this one."

But talks have hit a stumbling block recently over allegations that the U.S. National Security Administration spied on European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

If the deal goes through, the US Chamber of Commerce has said that the removal of all tariffs could add $180 billion to combined EU-U.S. gross domestic product over five years.

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While the EU estimates the partnership could increase the 28-nation bloc's annual economic output by 0.5%.

"This is the opportunity," Beccalli-Falco said, "let's work on the big frame agreement and let's work the pieces after when it is necessary."

CNN's Oliver Joy contributed to this report.

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