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Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Industry necessary for growth and job creation
IX Symposium COTEC Europa
Lisbon, 12 February 2014
Your Excellency Senhor Presidente da Republica Portugesa,
Mr President of the Italian Republic,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Creio que uma das ações de maior impacto destes últimos cinco anos foi o ter posto a economia real, o trabalho e a indústria no centro da agenda politica. Esta nova rota da Comissão Europeia tem tido um largo reconhecimento, inclusive da parte do Presidente do Parlamento Europeu, Martin Schulz.
This was not a given. At the beginning of our mandate, the dominant thinking of post-industrial Europe, focusing on services and finance, reigned supreme.
The crisis showed us the risks associated with a self-serving and unregulated finance sector. And this made us aware of the fragility of an economy without a solid industrial base and capacity for innovation.
We have finally opened our eyes to the fact that without industry there is no growth and no job creation.
Much of our exports, employment and wealth depend on the real economy. Without deep roots in manufacturing, services too wither away.
Most innovation derives from the industrial process.
The word 'industrious' itself evokes creation, the endless quest for new frontiers, a drive to be better.
Its essence is intelligence, which made Odysseus, under the protection of Athena, the real hero of the Homeric poems.
The hero of Ithaca was the first European man to tackle challenges and adventure into the unknown using the power of the mind.
This same desire to explore new routes, new discoveries, new trade routes, was the driving force behind the great navigators, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian captains of industry. The flowering of Europe's economic and cultural Renaissance was also thanks to them.
In this new vision of the centrality of industry, we look to the future. Not old polluting smokestacks, but a modern production, prioritising quality, sustainability and new technologies. A system in which services, finance and manufacturing, far from being opposed, are inextricably linked.
But putting industry back at the heart of the system is not enough.
Now is the time to act. Excessive austerity has severely weakened our production base. We have lost investment and millions of jobs. We are at a record low, with only 15 % of GDP tied to manufacturing.
We have lost global competitiveness. This is partly because we invest much less in innovation than the USA, Japan or Korea.
This is why our strategy to increase GDP from manufacturing to 20 % by 2020 is based precisely on innovation and training, the soul and beating heart of the industrial revolution we want to lead.
Only with more investment in industrial innovation can Europe respond to the problems we face of growth, employment, scarcity of resources and global warming.
This is why in the industry-energy-climate strategy which has just been approved, it is precisely innovation which seals the marriage between industry and sustainability: besides measures to combat climate change, the roadmap 'For a European Industrial Renaissance' is plotted.
For the first time, resources will be allocated not only to agriculture: by 2020, almost one sixth of the EU budget will be dedicated to innovation and industrial competitiveness. We can mobilise up to 1 000 billion euro through national co-financing, loans from the European Investment Bank and private resources.
In parallel, many governments, including the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish governments, are supporting us through the 'Friends of Industry' initiative, to set an ambitious agenda for the meeting of Heads of State and Government in March, the first to be dedicated to industry.
My hope is that this summit will not be a missed opportunity. European leaders should not limit themselves to statements of principle, but ensure a real consistency between research, infrastructure, energy, environment and education policy, with the aim of re-industrialisation.
Europe's greatest strength is its many millions of entrepreneurs driven by a dream, the realisation of an idea.
This is the true lifeblood of our society. Hampering this energy would mean boycotting employment, growth and the social market economy itself.
Europe cannot afford to scare away businesses. This is why the most profound change we have to make concerns the environment in which businesses operate.
We have not contented ourselves with mere good intentions. We have set the example, launching a broad process of simplification and applying competitiveness proofing to every new legislative proposal.
But states must play their part too. And sometimes, appeals alone are not enough.
The Industrial Renaissance also entails European standards requiring governments to provide payments and licences in 30 days, starting up a business in three days with 100 euro, cutting the time required for legal proceedings.
The industry we want must first and foremost be competitive in world markets. We need to focus realistically on free trade agreements which will ensure that our businesses are provided effective access to the markets on equal terms, starting with the United States.
We are the world's leading economic, industrial and trading power. Our know-how and the quality of our products are sought after everywhere. This is one of Europe's major assets, which should also be promoted through economic diplomacy.
In a rapidly changing world in which new major global players such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia are emerging, no European state is rich enough or populated enough to be truly influential.
Increasingly, learning to speak with one voice is essential to safeguard the interests of our industry, beginning with secure access to raw materials and energy at competitive prices.
This is why I have led many missions for growth with European businesses since 2011, to promote economic opportunities and formalise cooperation agreements.
In January, the three European companies that are working on enlarging the Panama Canal wrote to me asking the Commission to facilitate settlement of a dispute. This strengthened my belief in the need for strong economic diplomacy.
No puedo concluir mi discurso sin referirme a uno de los principales problemas que tenemos en Europa: el alto paro juvenil.
Las "Misiones para el Crecimiento" también se organizan dentro de la Unión Europea y tienen la ventaja que vienen empresas de toda Europa a una ciudad en un mismo momento.
Es la segunda vez en poco tiempo que vuelvo a Lisboa. El pasado 29 de noviembre reunimos casi 800 (ochocientas) empresas, de las que 185 (ciento ochenta y cinco) eran no portuguesas, para invertir y hacer negocios en Portugal.
Sé que hay una segunda edición de esta Misión en Lisboa a inicios de abril y me felicito.
Como estas reuniones empresariales funcionan bien en la lucha contra el paro juvenil, estoy organizando una en Valonia, Bélgica ahora en Febrero. Iré después a Italia, primero a Campania a mediados de marzo y a Sicilia a final de marzo. Acabaré esta serie de Misiones para el Crecimiento en España en Andalucía y Extremadura a primeros de abril.
As Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed at BusinessEurope, we need an Industrial Compact which complements and integrates the Fiscal Compact, and a Competitiveness Council with comparable leverage to Ecofin.
The fiscal compact alone, applied rigidly and with excessive austerity, has contributed to the recessionary spiral which continues to destroy our industrial base and jobs.
Only by steering the rudder towards the real economy, small and medium-sized businesses and jobs can we pull the rug out from under the feet of populism, those who clamour for the end of the euro, the end of freedom of movement, those who see Europe as a new Leviathan.
We need more solidarity. We need a federal budget, we need genuine economic governance. We need a Central Bank able to oversee stability, but also unemployment. We need a Central Bank able to combat inflation, but also today's real threat of deflation.
This is why, all together, we must have the innovative courage of the Founding Fathers in pursuing a journey begun many years ago which cannot stop now, even at the risk of failure.
At the next European elections, politicians need to be able to convince the electorate to be part of a new European project that inspires dreams once more, transforming protest into a desire for change.
I would like to conclude my speech by sparing a thought for the Italian marines who have been held in India for two years on that infamous charge of terrorism. They were in the Indian Ocean defending our freedom to sell our companies' products.
Failure to acknowledge their role as defenders of the law would, as Catherine Ashton said, have serious repercussions not only in Italy but in all countries involved in the fight against piracy.
I am reminded of the words of San Francisco Javier, a Spaniard born in Navarre and trained in Rome, to whom the Portuguese had entrusted the task of evangelising Asia His relics now lie in India, in the cathedral of Goa.
This missionary priest said: "Aunque nadie ha podido regresar y hacer un nuevo comienzo…cualquiera puede volver a comenzar y hacer un nuevo final". I address these words of hope to the Italian marines, with the wish that they will soon return to their homeland. But I also address these words to anyone who wants to innovate and thus build a new European dream: the United States of Europe.