Competitiveness Council paves the way for EU industrial policy strategy


An integrated EU industrial policy strategy seems now to be appearing on the horizon. For the first time the EU ministers in charge of economic competitiveness and industry found consensus about conclusions that call on the EU Commission to provide a holistic EU industrial policy strategy for the future. The unanimous support of Member States to make industry policy an issue of highest political relevance was given at the Competitiveness Council meeting held in Brussels on May 29th.

The Council acknowledged that a joint industrial strategy was vital to ensure Europe’s industrial global competitiveness and to cope with the heavy technology change the industry is facing. The ministers all agreed on some key horizontal actions to be taken targeting at issues like access to finance, digitalisation and new business models, or investment in skills and talents. They also agreed that some sectoral focus is needed where necessary. The European Commissioner in charge of industry Elzbieta Bienkowska underlined that all Council members proved they are “friends of the industry” and that the Council was now well equipped and ready to prepare a coherent industrial policy, albeit confirming difficult internal discussions within the Commission itself.

“For Europe’s manufacturing industry, this is an important step in the right direction”, says Riccardo Viaggi, Secretary General of CECE, the European Construction Equipment Industry Association. By adopting the conclusions, the Competitiveness Council picked up a main request of the European manufacturing industry issued in a Joint Declaration co-signed by CECE with 127 other European trade associations.

“Our main request was indeed to give ourselves the means to increase the share of industry in the European GDP to 20% by 2020. This can only be achieved by outlining and implementing an Action Plan including concrete steps and milestones in a timely manner. This is really close at hand now”, says Mr. Viaggi. CECE very much appreciates that the Council had listened to the needs of the industry. “We are all committed to give our input and step up our cooperation with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Competitiveness Council when they will start preparing the actual strategy”.

Background information
The European  manufacturing  sector which employs over 34 million people across all member states  in  supply  chains  comprising  hundreds  of  thousands  of  SMEs and larger suppliers, is facing considerable challenges.  Between  2000 and 2014, the share  of  manufacturing in total EU output fell  from 18.8% to 15.3%  while 3.5 million  manufacturing  jobs  were lost between 2008 and 2014. In this context and with  other countries around the world  putting  industry at the very top  of their  political  agenda, it  is  vital  for  the  EU  to  set  the  right  framework for Europe’s   manufacturing   sector  to   grow, be  competitive  and  create  jobs  in  Europe.  The European  Manufacturing  Industry  has  a  huge capacity for research and innovation, boasts a skilled  workforce  and  has  earned  a  global  reputation  for  quality and sustainability. It now needs  the   support  of  the   European   institutions  and   member  states  to  develop  its  full potential.

Already in 2013, CECE presented a 10-point action plan for a competitive industrial production in Europe. The major fields of action defined included issues like introducing stronger competitiveness-proofing and fitness checks, reducing the administrative burden of complying with EU legislation, ensuring fair competition through better market surveillance or seeking greater international policy alignment to avoid technical barriers to trade.

Link to Joint Declaration
Link to CECE-CEMA Manifesto


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