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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

An EU industrial policy fit for the 21st century

12 November 2014

Brussels, EPC-EESC conference on"A NEW INDUSTRIAL POLICY FOR EUROPE"

Elżbieta Bieńkowska - Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs


INTRODUCTION

Mister President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Only a few days after the start of the new College, I am happy to engage with you in a debate on industrial policy. It is not only at the center of my action, but it will be at the core of the Commission's policy to boost growth, jobs and investment.

To achieve this, we need to support the real economy and put it at the heart of Europe's economic agenda.

1. INDUSTRIAL POLICY  

Manufacturing is essential for many associated services. It is crucial to innovation and trade performance. The figures speak for themselves: industry accounts for 75% of private sector research and innovation in the EU. It generates 75% of Europe's exports.

We are still not out of the economic crisis. What we need is a modern, pragmatic yet focused industrial policy. We need intelligent measures, taking into account the specificities of sectors and markets.

This means we need to invest in our knowledge base. We have to identify market failures, reach out to stakeholders and develop pragmatic solutions.

My motto in this will be "accelerate and integrate". We need to accelerate the implementation of concrete actions to support a competitive industrial economy. And we have to better integrate competitiveness in all policy areas, at all levels of government.

Raising industry’s share of EU GDP towards 20% is not a goal in itself.

The goal is to keep and create high-value jobs. This is the condition to improve productivity and manufacturing in Europe.

2. FOUR LEVERS FOR COMPETITIVENESS

As requested by the European Council in March 2014, I will propose in early 2015 a full road-map with a series of actions to support industry.

Four basic areas will be at the core of my industrial strategy:

FIRST: Industry needs better access to markets, both in the EU and beyond

Completing the single market is the important instrument to improve industrial competitiveness. We must bring together the internal market and the industrial economy and not look at them as two areas.

We have to address obstacles to a fully-open services market. The focus should be on sectors like business services, construction and retail among the other.

The internal market for goods is rather well-advanced but we still need to simplify and make sure it works in practice.

Effective enforcementthe key to achieve that.

A few examples of what I will look at early in my term are:

The full implementation of the Services Directive, together with a renewed strategy for the Internal Market for services;

The adoption of the Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package;

The effective application of the new public procurement legislation;

A full evaluation of the functioning of the mutual recognition principle, for both services and goods;

And the consolidation of our intellectual property framework, including the implementation without delay of the European unitary patent.

The Digital Single Market is also a key area for the new Commission as almost all businesses today are heavily dependent on digital technologies.

Our future prosperity also relies on international markets. We have to continue the opening up of markets beyond Europe, in the spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefits.

SECOND: Industry needs affordable access to resources: finance, energy, raw materials and skills.

The biggest problem facing Europe’s industry is the dramatic fall in investment, which is 20% below the pre-crisis levels.

The package is essential for industrial competitiveness. In my view, we should include also industrial projects in it.

Europe has some of the highest energy prices in the world. We are dependent on imports for energy and critical raw materials. This raises our industry’s costs, particularly for energy-intensive production.

We need to facilitate further energy efficiency improvements, both for society at large and industry in particular. We have to show that competitiveness and sustainability go hand-in-hand.

We need to urgently push the Energy Union, leading to a competitive, fully integrated internal energy market.

We also need to fill the gaps for skillsneeded by companies by promoting vocational training and retraining to fill 2 mln vacancies in the situation when 5 mln young Europeans are unemployed. Companies and the industry must identify and anticipate their skills needs.

THIRD: Industry needs to be able to invest in innovation and modernisation.

If Europe wishes to retain an influence in the world and preserve the standard of living, it must create and produce goods and services that others do not know how to produce – or cannot produce as efficiently.

That’s why we must create an innovation-friendly environment.

We need to use all the policy tools available.

We have to use the possibilities of the Horizon 2020 Programme to support close-to-market industrial innovation.

In particular,major projects could be set-up for Key enabling technologies such as digital, advanced manufacturing, biotech and nanotechnology.

We have to modernize our industry to make it fit for tomorrow's challenges, by facilitating long-term investments. I will use all my experience with regional funding to make sure the money is well spent, within our smart specialisation strategy.

Innovation and competitiveness take root where people can create companies and where companies have access to skilled personnel and capital; where companies can compete, grow and fail in a free market; where intellectual property – is protected.

FOURTH: Industry needs a favourable business environment

All companies need a business-friendly regulatory environment. I will focus on simplification and predictability of legislation for business.

Industry in particular needs better regulation, minimizing the administrative and regulatory burden while ensuring the protection of property rights to the rightful holders.

We need to pay special attention to SMEs, making full use of the €2.3 billion in the COSME programme, particularly to support SME access to finance.

I will propose a revised Small Business Act for Europe. It will aim to ensure that anywhere in Europe, the time and costs of setting up business will be radically reduced with a faster licensing process.

Finally, essential for business and citizens is the way authorities operate. We have to further modernise public administration, by exchanging best practices, promoting eGovernment and addressing progress in the European Semester process. Business, especially SMEs, consistently indicate the absence of eGovernment as one of the main bottlenecks to their ambitions for cross-border expansion.

3. TASKS AND CHALLENGES

As I already repeated many times faster and more effective implementation of the currently existing legislation will be my key focus.

For example, I will launch the following initiatives in specific sectors:

  • In the automotive sector, I intend to re-launch the CARS 2020 process, revise the type-approval framework and give a strong push for the adoption of global rules;
  • In chemicals, we have to work on improving the implementation of REACH, especially as regards the authorisation procedure;
  • In defense, we need to integrate markets for defense procurement and rationalize investments, following the roadmap set-out by the European Council;
  • In construction, I want to conduct a fitness check of the sector and its legislation and further exploit the potential for energy efficiency improvements;
  • In space, we have a huge responsibility to successfully build the Galileo and Copernicus systems, make sure that applications serve the citizens and economy,

My approach will be comprehensive and encompass all sectors, from steel to tourism and creative industries, taking into account their specificities.

We must not forget that our industry must remain sustainable and promote the development of a greener economy. We therefore need to a package of measures promoting smart and clean technologies and a market-based resource efficiency approach across different sectors of industry. Clean technology can also open up new export opportunities.

The EU is more dependent on imported raw materials than most advanced economies. I therefore wish to explore with industry possible benefits of the circular economy.

CONCLUSION

Modern industrial policy is cross-cutting: industrial competitiveness needs to be fully integrated in many other policy areas. Environment, trade, competition, innovation and other policies have a direct impact on industry and we should be ready to make adaptations to strengthen competitiveness.

Finally, I want to stress once again that industry is NOT A PROBLEM FOR EUROPE! CONTRARY! It is its biggest chance to build a competitive and innovative economy of the future!

 

SPEECH/14/1680

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