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European industries unite to call for an ambitious EU industrial strategy

Industry4Europe, a coalition of 149 sector Associations representing the diversity of the EU’s industrial base, published its new Joint Paper ‘A long-term strategy for Europe’s industrial future: from words to action’. Through cross-sectoral recommendations, the Industry4Europe coalition contributes to the future EU industrial strategy announced by European Commission President-Elect Ursula von der Leyen.

The Joint Paper presents concrete industrial policy proposals in seven priority fields; business-friendly policy environment, sustainability at business core, upgraded skills and training, enhanced research and innovation, investment and improved access to finance, reinforcement of the European Single Market and strengthened trade and international market access.

The 149 industry organisations behind Industry4Europe stand united in their repeated calls for an ambitious and long-term EU industrial strategy that must help Europe remain a hub for a leading, smart, innovative and sustainable industry, that provides quality jobs and benefits all Europeans and future generations.

“With its skilled workforce and its global reputation for quality and sustainability, our industry is vital for Europe and its prosperity”, said Philippe Citroën, Coordinator of the Industry4Europe Coalition. “The European Union needs an ambitious industrial strategy now to compete with other global regions that have already put industry at the very top of their political agenda. It is essential for a horizonal, coherent and focused industrial policy to support the backbone of the European economy and which protects citizens and the global environment”.

European Commission President-Elect von der Leyen has said clearly in her Political Guidelines for the upcoming mandate that she would, “put forward my plan for a future-ready economy, our new industrial strategy”. The Industry4Europe coalition welcomes this ambition and hopes that its explicit policy recommendations will find a central place in any comprehensive long-term industrial strategy that comes out of the EU institutions.

The Industry4Europe coalition therefore looks forward to working with all policymakers – notably the designated Executive Vice-Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis and Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton – to discuss and implement such an ambitious and much-needed EU industrial strategy.

As regards the response of the Politics, it comes in part from the position taken by MEP Massimiliano Salini, a member of DG Industry and Tourism in the last legislature and rapporteur of the ESA financing law, the European Space Agency: “The threat to European entrepreneurship today is made up of two major factors: production prices in China, with many companies giving in to the sirens of delocalization, and unfair competition that our companies are suffering from prices. This second phenomenon is easier to understand and perhaps to counteract. What is truly tragic is that one would expect a reaction from politics. That anyone looking for the low price is normal, but politics must intervene. If a producer needs to buy steel and Turkish steel it costs 340 while that of a European producer costs 500, they can tell me as long as they want I have to give priority to Made in Italy, but if I need to save, in the end I will always choose what is cheaper, even if foreigner. If the policy wants to help the Made in Europe or the Made in Italy must make sure that the buyer can afford Italian steel. In Germany, for example, there are offsets on energy costs (steel production is decidedly energy-intensive). But it is clear that certain choices must be made at the community level: because in some countries compensations are active and in others not?”.

Salini then draws up a picture of protection and duties: “All markets protect themselves while in Italy there is no protective reaction. We must protect ourselves from China where market rules are not respected: wrong prices, state intervention where it must not be there. As for the United States, however, the thing is different: US duties are against Europe, which is absurd. It is an internal war against the West against those who respect the rules of the market. We did not deserve it, especially in Italy, because here people work and we are first in Europe for sustainability. We must react. It must be understood that without businesses the country dies. 80% of jobs in Europe are in SMEs “.

As for Italy, the urgency is urgent, according to Salini: “A country that has to recover 23 billion for the maneuver and decides to take them on business is not a country that supports them. I frequent the business world, especially in Italy. This means that, especially in Italy, I see things that are not seen around the world. The concentration of quality and innovation that is seen in Italy is exceptional. But we have one of the most anti-company states that exist, the school-enterprise correlation does not work in comparison, for example with Germany, and the training of technicians is missing. Italy invests 19% of GDP in pensions and 3% in education: it is an unacceptable imbalance for a country that wants to enhance its innovative and productive capacity. The school-work alternation must be built well, because what makes the difference is that the student lives in direct contact with the entrepreneur’s testimony of life and work “.