A consensus has been reached by EU ministers in charge of economic competitiveness and industry to call on the EU Commission to provide a holistic industrial policy strategy for the future – a move that the European Construction Equipment Industry Association (CECE) fully embraces.
At a recent Competitiveness Council meeting, member states unanimously supported the idea of putting industry policy at the top of the political agenda.
According to CECE, this move is vital to ensure Europe’s industrial global competitiveness at a time when the European manufacturing sector, which employs over 34 million people across all member states, is facing significant challenges.
Between 2000 and 2014, the share of manufacturing in total EU output fell from 18.8% to 15.3%, and 3.5 million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2008 and 2014. In addition, new technology threatens to change the face of the industry.
Therefore, CECE believes it is crucial for the EU to set the right framework for Europe’s manufacturing sector to grow, become competitive and create jobs.
Ministers agreed on some key horizontal actions that needed to be taken, targeting issues such as access to finance, digitalisation, new business models, and investment in skills and talents. They also agreed that some sectoral focus was needed where necessary.
According to Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Commissioner in charge of industry, the council was now well equipped and ready to prepare a coherent industrial policy.
CECE felt that, in the meeting, the Competitiveness Council had 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
Riccardo Viaggi, secretary general of CECE, said, “Our main request was indeed to give ourselves the means to increase the share of industry in the European GDP (gross domestic product) 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.”
He added, “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.”