EU industrial policy strategy met with mixed response
European Commission plans to beef up EU industrial policy have been greeted with a mixed response.
In his state of the union address on Wednesday, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the proposal, expected to be more fully outlined next week, will make the bloc a world leader.
Juncker told MEPs he wants to make Europe's industry stronger and more competitive.
He said, "This is particularly true for our manufacturing base and the 32 million workers that form its backbone. They make the world-class products that give us our edge, like our cars."
Juncker said the new industrial policy strategy "will help our industries stay or become the world leader in innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation."
At the beginning of his mandate, Juncker identified the reindustrialisation of Europe as one of his top priorities and confirmed the objective of increasing the share of industry in the European GDP to 20 per cent by 2020.
Earlier this year, member states called on the Commission to provide a holistic EU industrial policy strategy for the future.
BusinessEurope President Emma Marcegaglia welcomed the EU plans, outlined briefly in a communication, because it "demonstrates that the European Commission has acknowledged the importance of developing an integrated and modern European industrial strategy."
She went on, "We look forward to discussing further steps for a structured way forward. Europe must have a strategy to tackle the impacts of the fast technological, economic and political changes facing us.
"With half of European business integrated in global value chains, this should not be done by becoming inward-looking, but by creating the conditions for industry to adapt quickly and to anticipate future trends."
She said the strong focus on trade and renewed attention to an EU industrial strategy "are of strategic importance for Europe's long-term prosperity and employment."
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) recently signed a joint declaration calling on the Commission to support an ambitious EU industrial strategy.
A statement read, "The time has come to raise the alarm about the considerable challenges that we are all facing. Between 2000 and 2014, the share of manufacturing in total EU output fell from 18.8 per cent to 15.3 per cent, while 3.5 million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2008 and 2014. Meanwhile, countries around the world are putting industry at the very top of their political agendas."
Meanwhile, Committee of the Regions President Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said, "The objectives set out by Juncker cannot be achieved without the right resources. We therefore need a stronger EU budget that matches European ambitions."
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