We Have a Chance
to Be One of the Most Successful
Industrial Regions in Europe
The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, the largest employee union in the country,
which unites employers and entrepreneurs, and is the strongest partner of the government in
the tripartite, has a newly elected president. His name is Jan Rafaj and he gave an interesting
interview to Radúz Macha, chairman of the editorial board of POSITIV Business & Style magazine.
Mr. Rafaj, first of all I would like to congratulate you
on your election as President of the Confederation of
Industry of the Czech Republic.
Is the Confederation of Industry really the strongest
voice of business with its indispensable position in
promoting its interests?
I am convinced that it is - both practically and formally.
The Confederation of Industry leads the largest
delegation of employers in the tripartite. We comment
as the main partner in the discussion and we also lead
the whole process of debate with the government
on behalf of the employers. The Confederation of
Industry prepares the most sophisticated documents for
the proposals and because of that we have gained a lot
of respect. However, there are still many companies that
do not realise they have the potential for even greater
success by being a member of the Confederation, rather
they are not proactive and only complain about what is
wrong. It is with these companies that we could improve
and have better expertise with.
should return more
to industry, and not be
so dependent on services.
After your election you set some key priorities, one
of them emphasising the Czech product. Can you
tell us more about this priority?
We need to increase the value of what is produced
in the Czech Republic. There are a lot of good
ideas being created here and we can help promote
higher wages and overall success. However, there
are many bureaucratic obstacles that prevent it and
sometimes the correct marketing is missing as well.
We also need to help the top products enter foreign
markets, remove barriers and motivate people not to
be afraid to move on. What goes wrong in business
should be taken as experience for future success.
Where do you stand on the subject so often referred
to today as the Green Deal?
The Green Deal is a huge challenge for the Czech
Republic and we have a large share of the industry.
22 ǀ POSITIV 2/2023
I believe what King Philip VI of Spain told us on
our recent visit is true. He said, “Europe should
return more to industry, and not be so dependent
on services.” We need a lot of new investments
and every sector should define what needs to be
done 20 years from now concerning technology
and carbon footprints. We also need to work on
protecting the internal market so that we are not
swamped by cheap and non-environmental friendly
products from Asia.
We can do all of that in the region
we would be very successful.
If we manage to transform Karviná
and Bruntál, I am convinced that we
will be one of the most successful
industrial regions in all of Europe.
Was there also the establishment of a special energy
section among your proposals?
Yes, it was just in the last few days I fulfilled my promise.
We now have a constituent board of directors and
a new expert team for decarbonisation. All that
remains is to prepare documents for the government
and Brussels. Affordable energy prices are also very
important because otherwise we would not be
How successful are we in digitalisation?
For us, it is the alpha and the omega and it will help us
to catch up with the West. Although it puts us back on
the starting line, we can succeed like Rohlík, Seznam
and many other companies in the IT sector.
What about the topic that speaks most to your
heart? The labour market. Can you tell us more
I have been working on it for eight years and have
identified three things that need to be addressed.
First, replace the drained labour market as quickly as
possible, preferably doing that with foreign labour.
We have prepared legal documents to amend
the legislation. There are excellent young people