EU industry is getting back on track. We see positive signs everywhere - industrial production is increasing, new businesses are being set up, investment in R&D is on the rise and manufacturing sector performance is at a 20-year high. Industry remains a major employer in the EU - it provides 32 million jobs, with 1.5 million of these jobs created since 2013.
There are also many challenges ahead of us and we are working to empower industry to rise and turn them into opportunities. We want to ensure that EU industry makes the best of the new digital technologies, leads the way in the transition towards a low-carbon economy and maintains its leading position on global markets. At the same time, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that industrial changes may negatively affect regions and workers across Europe if we do not act collectively.
This is where our industrial strategy comes into play. Industry has always been at the heart of the Commission’s priorities and all our policies have been geared to empowering EU industry to create jobs, foster competitiveness, boost investment, embrace innovation, support the transition towards a clean economy and to helping those that might be losing out from globalisation.
The strategy gives this effort a fresh impetus by connecting the dots between the various EU initiatives into a single comprehensive industrial policy strategy and emphasises greater involvement of stakeholders in the shaping of future EU industrial policy.
On 22-23 February, we will bring these stakeholders together during the second EU Industry Day - an annual event where representatives of industry, national, regional and local administrations, financial institutions, academia and civil society will discuss cross-cutting issues, share best practices and develop a joint vision for the future of EU industry.
It will also be the first occasion for the new high-level industrial roundtable - a group of 20 high-level experts known as ‘Industry 2030’ - to meet and discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead of us in the medium to long term.
We set up the Industry 2030 group to increase stakeholder involvement of stakeholders in developing our policies. The members of the group will bring their diverse experience and ideas to help us ensure our policies work and empower our industries to compete globally. The experts will advise us on future priorities as well as giving us feedback on initiatives that are already ongoing.
The Industry Day and the Industry 2030 group underline that the success of industrial policy in Europe is a joint venture. Everyone has a role to play. Success depends on the cooperation of the European institutions, EU countries, regions and most of all on the active role of industry itself. We are ready to listen and to use all available expertise.
The Commission has already delivered to a large extent. Since 2014, we have submitted the proposals that we promised in our single market strategy for strengthen the single market for services and goods.
We have made substantial progress on the circular economy, digital single market, capital markets union and energy union. We urge the European Parliament and Council to reach rapid agreement on our proposals.
Our industrial strategy combines horizontal elements with sectoral emphasis too. Our 2016 space strategy, to further build on Europe’s strong and competitive space industry, is already bearing fruit and our defence action plan is delivering by supporting the first concrete defence research projects with EU funding through the European defence fund.
We continue our efforts for a clean, sustainable and competitive car industry and will soon propose new strategy on connected and autonomous vehicles as well as a strategy on artificial intelligence.
We also invest in people. We help people get the skills they need and support those that take the risk of starting or scaling up a company.
Our efforts will also be focused on revitalising Europe’s regions, as they are a vital partner in delivering a common strategy. EU investment - in particular the EU investment fund and regional funds - is providing the resources regions need to play to their strengths.
Looking to the future of European industry, there’s greater cause for optimism than at any time in the last decade. We are all working together to create the fundamental conditions for industrial policy.
Adopting and implementing current proposals will make the single market of 500 million people an even more powerful engine for growth and launchpad for our companies to be globally competitive.