2nd meeting of the High Level Group Key Enabling Technologies: conclusion by Antonio Tajani
Type: Complete speech
Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, participated in the 2nd meeting of the High Level Group Key Enabling Technologies in Brussels on 16 July 2013. He delivered a closing address.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Speech by Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, (in FRENCH): First of all, I would like to thank Jean Therme for his work and his presentation of the highlights of the High Level Group’s report, and then all of you for your hard work and your contribution to this report. Lastly, I would also like to thank the members of the group for having shared their points of view with the Commission. It is clear that your preliminary report has come at a good time for us. Indeed, the Commission will present its report on the implementation of the Communication on industrial policy at the Competitiveness Council of September 2013. Therefore, the European Council looks forward to this analysis with a view to its meeting of February 2014 on industrial competitiveness. As you all know, the main goal of our industrial policy is to increase the importance of industry in the EU’s economy, from 15.2% of GDP at present to 20% in 2020. Your High Level Group represents the task force that provides the Commission with the expertise it needs to monitor progress made in the deployment of KETs and to adapt its policy as necessary. Therefore, your recommendations are particularly useful and will contribute to our analysis, which will be presented in September 2013. However, your report also comes at an important time for another reason. As you know, KETs are a priority in the new generation of European Union financial programmes, including Horizon 2020 and the cohesion policy in particular. Your recommendations will be carefully considered in the current phase of preparing for their implementation.
||Speech by Antonio Tajani (in FRENCH): As regards the urgency of the situation, I want to tell you that I agree to a very large extent with your diagnosis. The latest EU Innovation Scoreboard, which I presented last March, shows that Asia’s lead on the EU is increasing and that East Asia is the leader in Key Enabling Technologies. As is also shown in your report, we have seen a clear increase in revenue from European patents and licences from abroad. This confirms that our patents are increasingly being used outside Europe. Therefore, these patents are not resulting in enough new products and services in Europe, causing a significant shortfall, particularly in terms of jobs. The main aim of the European strategy for KETs is to transform innovative ideas and technologies into new products and services. To do this, it is not enough to spend more on research. We also need to redirect public support for research towards market-oriented research, including in pilot lines and demonstration projects in particular. However, pilot lines relating to KETs require considerable resources in terms of capital. Consequently, synergies and co-financing must be sought between European, national and regional level as you recommend in your report. The Commission is willing to contribute and implement mechanisms that will ensure this complementarity. I am counting on you, as private actors, to help the Commission to raise the awareness of Member States and regions of the opportunities relating to KETs within the context of smart specialisation strategies. Co-financing, now made possible by the legislative changes proposed by the Commission, will certainly involve a learning process. I can assure you of my full support for the four priority industrial fields with high potential that you have identified: smart materials, batteries, high-performance manufacturing and industrial bioprocesses. They will demonstrate that we have the ability to coordinate policies and instruments at European, national and regional level.
||Speech by Antonio Tajani (in FRENCH): I fully agree on the fact that we need to show that Europe is capable of supporting these ambitious intersectoral projects, which will help industry to walk through the “valley of death” and become competitive on international markets again. Of course, a strong commitment on the part of industry will be one of the necessary conditions to achieve this. In collaboration with my colleague, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, we will ensure that Horizon 2020 allows the necessary pilot lines to be implemented to stimulate the competitiveness of European industry in those fields. I also note with interest your wish to step up efforts for SMEs as Key Enabling Technologies concern large and small businesses. SMEs provide two out of three private sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total value-added created by businesses in the EU. Accordingly, we must ensure that SMEs are able to exploit all of their capacity for innovation. One way to do this is to provide access to technology platforms, enabling them to test the feasibility of their ideas and projects. I understand that the research and technology organisations here today have expressed their commitment to this topic. It will also be necessary to support the development of technology platforms, through Horizon 2020, for example, and the access of SMEs, via the COSME programme, for example.
||Speech by Antonio Tajani (in FRENCH): However, new technologies cannot be developed or placed on the market if the European workforce does not have the requisite skills. The serious skills gap that exists in relation to KETs deserves more attention, as you recommend in your report. The Commission is aware of the skills shortages in relation to KETs and has instituted specific actions to better understand the current situation regarding gaps, identify best practice and lastly, draw up an action plan. Multi-stakeholder partnerships between universities and businesses, in all the sectors, will be particularly necessary in order to reduce the skills shortages and mismatches. I will also discuss this important topic with my colleague, Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, in charge of education. For the second stage of the High Level Group’s work, I would first of all encourage you to continue promoting your recommendations as a group. Within this context, I am also expecting a Memorandum of Understanding from you, expressing your formal commitment to support the European policy for KETs through your actions, including for manufacturers to invest in Europe in particular.
||Speech by Antonio Tajani (in FRENCH): In terms of substance, the choice of subjects for further investigation is of course up to you. However, be aware that I would encourage you to target the following subjects. First, the industrial ecosystems related to KETs. Ecosystems play a key role in European cluster policy, which we have been successfully developing for a number of years. I suggest that you study the link and the complementarity between small and large businesses in greater detail. Secondly, your suggestions on trade relations could be explored further. Based on a study, the Commission has identified clear cases of market distortion by non-European countries which have led some European businesses to relocate their production. I believe it is necessary to prevent such cases from reoccurring in the future. Lastly, recommendations on stimulating innovation by demand, such as through procurement contracts or other demand-driven initiatives, would be useful. Ladies and Gentlemen, the way is now clear. Europe offers many advantages, you represent its driving forces. We must now start working together on this project, and I am counting on you and your commitment. Thank you for these fruitful exchanges, I would now like to invite you to continue our discussion more informally over a drink.