Industrial policy: recommendations to support Europe’s leadership in six strategic business areas

industry

(Christopher Burns, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Commission publishes recommendations by a group of experts, the Strategic Forum on Important Projects of Common European Interest, to boost Europe’s competitiveness and global leadership in six strategic and future-oriented industrial sectors: Connected, clean and autonomous vehicles; Hydrogen technologies and systems; Smart health; Industrial Internet of Things; Low-carbon industry; and Cybersecurity.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: Our single market, one of the largest markets in the world, is a unique springboard for our industry to compete globally. To make the most of it, we need to collectively invest in being at the forefront of technological development. We have made a good start in areas such as batteries, plastic recycling and high-performance computing. And we can do more. In that vein, I welcome today’s expert group recommendations for six additional strategic value chains that the EU’s industrial policy should focus on.”

Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) comprise innovative research projects that often entail significant risks and require joint, well-coordinated efforts and transnational investments by public authorities and industries from several Member States. By investing jointly in Europe’s industrial strengths and assets, the EU can generate jobs and growth across sectors and regions and strengthen its role on the global stage.

In addition to recommendations specific to each of the value chains, the report also identifies horizontal enabling actions:

  • Pooling public and private resources at EU, national and regional levels; The EU should coordinate these joint investments, targeting first industrial deployment and the commercialisation of new technologies;
  • Deepening and integrating the single market through regulations and new standards;
  • Mapping and developing the skills needed across the value chains;
  • Making innovation systems in Europe more dynamic, with a focus on regional strengths and public-private partnerships;
  • Setting a governance process to monitor technological and industrial changes, identify emerging strategic value chains and evaluate the progress of work on these value chains.

The report is part of the Juncker Commission’s efforts to strengthen Europe’s industrial base. It will also contribute to the next Commission’s work on a new long-term strategy for Europe’s industrial future.

Background

Europe’s industry is strong and has retained global leadership in many sectors, such as automotive, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery and aerospace. Our industry has created 1.7 million jobs since 2013 and accounts for more than two-third of our exports.

However, in a changing world Europe’s industry must adjust and adapt to remain ahead of the curve. The Commission pursues policies that provide an ecosystem for Europe’s industries to thrive in. This empowers industry to create quality jobs in a strong and fair single market, boost Europe’s competitiveness, foster investment and innovation – for example in clean technologies – and support regions and workers affected by industrial change.

Announced in the renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy in 2017, in March 2018 the Commission set up the Strategic Forum on Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). The work of the Strategic Forum builds on and complements the new vision for a more sustainable, inclusive and competitive transformation of the European industry by 2030, presented by the high-level Industrial Roundtable expert group in June 2019. The Strategic Forum’s recommendations will also feed into the reflection on the Commission’s new industrial policy, as requested by the European Council Conclusions of 22 March 2019.

The Commission fully supports Member States and their companies coming together to enable transnational large-scale investments with positive spillover effects across Europe.

The EU has put in place flexible State aid rules to facilitate IPCEIs. In December 2018, the Commission approved, under the State aid IPCEI framework, €1.75 billion of public investment, which will unlock an additional €6 billion of private investment for research and innovation in microelectronics. Four European countries – France, Germany, Italy and the UK – and around 30 companies and research institutions will join forces to enable research and innovation in this key technology. This was the first research and innovation project approved under the special, leaner rules for State aid for projects of strategic European interest. Important joint efforts and investments are also being made on high-performance computing and batteries.

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