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European Commission - Press release
Industrial competitiveness is the solution to ensure sustainable economic recovery
Brussels 14 October 2011 – The European Commission presented today its Communication on "Industrial policy: Reinforcing competitiveness", which looks specifically at the industrial competitiveness performance of the Member States.
The EU economic recovery has been relatively slow and remains fragile. This is reflected in the worsening sentiment across the European economy. Moreover, there are clear downside risks stemming from financial markets, rising energy and raw materials prices, and the need for budgetary consolidation. However, EU industry is in good shape and has the potential to push the European economy back to growth.
There are considerable differences among Member States: the average labour productivity in manufacturing ranges from almost 125% of gross value added per person employed in Ireland to below 20% in Bulgaria. The share of innovating companies varies from 80% in Germany to 25% in Latvia. The business-friendliness of regulation gets highest scores in Finland whereas Italy is in last position. Faced with this scenario today’s communication encourages Member States to rapidly implement policies to converge to competitive levels coherent with participation in the euro and the Internal Market.
This requires robust and coordinated industrial and SMEs policies from the Member States. To this end, the Commission is ready to promote and monitor structural improvements as the European economy urgently needs to get back to a growth path.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: " European industry is in a good shape and ready to compete. However, the slowdown of the recovery should push us to put even further competitiveness and growth at the top of the political agenda. We need structural reforms aimed at freeing the potential of our entrepreneurs, the main actors for recovery".
Today’s communication is accompanied by the "European Competitiveness Report 2011" and the report on "Member States competitiveness performance and policies 2011". More information
Key areas for action
Enhancing the global competitiveness of European industry is essential, as 75% of EU exports come from manufacturing firms, who also undertake 80% of industry R&D. The Communication has identified the following key areas where the competitiveness of the EU economy could be further strengthened in order to make significant progress towards the Europe 2020 goals:
(1) facilitating structural changes in the economy, in order to move towards more innovative and knowledge-based sectors that have higher productivity growth and which have suffered less from global competition (such as eco industries, electrical and optical equipment);
(2) enabling innovation in industries, in particular by pooling scarce resources, by reducing the fragmentation of innovation support systems and by increasing the market focus of research projects. The markets for key enabling technologies (e.g. nanotechnologies, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology), for example, are expected to grow by up to 50% by 2015, creating thousands of high value-added new jobs.
(3) promoting sustainability and resource efficiency, in particular by promoting innovation and the use of cleaner technologies, by ensuring fair access and undistorted pricing of raw materials and energy and by upgrading and interconnecting energy distribution networks;
(4) improving the business environment, in particular by reducing the administrative burden on businesses and by promoting competition among service providers that use broadband, energy and transport infrastructure;
(5) benefiting from the Single Market, by supporting innovative services and by fully implementing the Single Market rules, in particular the Services Directive. Fully implementing the Services Directive could bring up to €140 billion of EU-wide economic gains, representing a growth potential of 1.5% of GDP;
(6) supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular by favouring access to finance, by facilitating internationalisation and access to markets, and by ensuring that public administrations reduce payment times.
The main results of the reports
As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission launched in 2010 a new industrial policy1 that highlighted the actions needed to strengthen the attractiveness of Europe as a place for investment and production, including the commitment to monitor regularly Member States’ competitiveness policies.
The annual "European Competitiveness Report" and the report on "Member States’ Competitiveness Performance and Policies" will contribute to the evaluation of the Member States under the broader framework of the European semester and Europe 2020.
Communication "Industrial Policy: Reinforcing competitiveness"
"European Competitiveness Report 2011"
Report on "Member States’ Competitiveness Performance and Policies 2011"
MEMO/11/701 "Industrial Policy: Reinforcing competitiveness"
MEMO/11/702 "Overview of competitiveness in 27 Member States"
Industrial Competitiveness: "An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era"
Europe 2020 and European semester