On the occasion of the First Anniversary conference on the Europe 2020 industrial policy flagship initiative, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani presented an overview on what has been achieved under the fresh approach to industrial policy unveiled last year by the Commission.
Achievements for industry since October 2010
On 28th of October 2010 the European Commission adopted a communication "An integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era" a flagship initiative setting a number of priorities to be pursued in order to improve the competitiveness of European industry. In the course of last year a significant progress has been achieved in the implementation and a number of actions have been adopted.
Improving framework conditions for industry
Having set an objective of reinforcing analysis of the impacts of policy proposals on industrial competitiveness, the Commission has stepped up its implementation of competitiveness proofing. The first results can be seen in a number of policy proposals such as the ETS allowances to address the risk of carbon leakage; the Capital Requirements Directive IV; the tax on financial transactions. In addition a designated help-desk has been established and a 12-step operational guidance developed and tested in the practice of impact assessment.
Continuing its efforts to improve the business environment for SMEs the Commission reviewed in February 2011 the Small Business Act for Europe. The new initiative put emphasis on improved access to finance, more favourable regulation environment and helping SMEs facing globalisation challenges. SME Access to finance has been established as a major priority in the dedicated programme for industrial competitiveness and SMEs to be proposed by the Commission in the framework of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020. In addition an Action Plan for SME access to finance will be adopted before the end of the year.
Strengthening the Single Market
A well functioning and open internal market is key for the growth of European industry. The adoption of the Single Market Act in April 2011 marked a step to relaunch the single market. It set out twelve levers to further complete and deepen the internal market in the areas of access to finance, citizen mobility, public procurement, professional qualifications, intellectual property rights, consumer rights, services, networks, digital market, taxation and social entrepreneurship and cohesion.
Intellectual Property Rights
Improvements in the European system of intellectual property rights are essential to unleash the R&D and innovation efforts. Consequently, the Commission adopted in May a comprehensive strategy to revamp the legal framework in which IPR operate. The objective of the strategy is to enable inventors, creators, users and consumers to adapt to the new circumstances and to enhance new business opportunities. The proposed rules should strike the right balance between promoting creation and innovation, in part by ensuring reward and investment for creators and, on the other hand, promoting the widest possible access to goods and services protected by IPR.
Infrastructure serving industry
The competitiveness of European industry crucially depends on the quality and efficiency of infrastructure. In March a roadmap to a Single European Transport Area was proposed with 40 concrete initiatives for the next decade to build a competitive transport system that will increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment. At the same time, the proposals will dramatically reduce Europe's dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050.
In November 2010 the Commission presented "Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy". It defined the energy priorities for the next ten years and set the actions to be taken in order to tackle the challenges of saving energy, achieving a market with competitive prizes and secure supplies, boosting technological leadership, and effectively negotiate with our international partners. The second communication adopted in November focused on energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 that was followed in October 2011 by a proposal for a regulation on "Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure". This proposal aims at ensuring that strategic energy networks and storage facilities are completed by 2020.
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A stronger role for European standard setting in a rapidly changing world and society
Considering the significant role of standards in facilitating the market penetration of innovative goods and reducing costs of production, the Commission proposed in June a major modernisation of the European standardisation system with a series of measures that should strengthen the system of standard-setting in Europe. The major steps included recognition of global ICT standards and extension of European standards to services.
Boosting industrial innovation
In the area of industrial innovation, the High-Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies presented its final report in June 2011 with concrete recommendations on development and deployment of these technologies. These technologies not only bear enormous market potentials with annual growth rates between 5% and 16% per year up to 2020 and also provide crucial spill-over effects to key downstream industry sectors in terms of innovation and growth. Accelerating the development of these technologies is one of the key pillars of the Horizon 2020 Programme.
In its efforts to promote industrial research and innovation on advanced manufacturing technologies the Commission called in September for partnerships in research and innovation at EU-level. The Commission Communication draws on first experience from pilot projects and outlines steps that will lead to more, and more effective, public-private and public-public partnerships.
Capitalising on globalisation
On the global dimension of industrial policy, a new trade policy agenda was put in place in November 2010 and is currently being implemented. It ensures a more focused and incisive battle against trade and investment barriers in major partner economies to assure a global level playing-field for European companies. On international dialogue, the Commission has made steps towards mutually beneficial cooperation with third countries, such as the Mediterranean neighbours, Latin American countries and the African Union to improve market access for European products.
In relation with the recommendations of the SBA a new strategy 'Small Business, Big World a new partnership to help SMEs seize global opportunities’ to support internationalisation of SMEs was adopted in November 2011 aiming at strengthening support services and facilitating expansion of SMEs to external markets.
Ensuring access to raw materials
Secure, affordable, reliable and undistorted access to raw materials is essential for industrial competitiveness. In order to address recent volatility of prices on commodity markets and to ensure access to raw materials the Commission presented an initiative on commodities and raw materials. The new strategy focused on three areas: access to raw materials on world markets, sustainable supply within the EU and improvement of resource efficiency and recycling.
Building on Corporate Social Responsibility
In October the Commission adopted a new policy initiative on corporate social responsibility to help enterprises achieve their full potential in terms of creating wealth, jobs and innovative solutions to the many challenges facing Europe's society. It sets out how enterprises can benefit from CSR as well as contributing to society as a whole by taking greater steps to meet their social responsibility.
A targeted approach to sectors: space, cars
The Commission has also put forward some sector-specific initiatives, such as adoption of a, the Commission has presented a strategy for space policy aiming at strengthening of the European space sector and development of high quality space services. To support the transition to clean and energy efficient vehicles the Commission has also relaunched the CARS 21 high level group. The group objective is to develop an action plan and a vision for a competitive EU automotive industry and sustainable mobility in 2020 and beyond.
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Helping industry to adapt to climate change
The Commission also continues its efforts to address the concerns of energy-intensive industries, in particular through initiating the Sustainable Industry Low Carbon Scheme (SILC), by promoting ultra-low carbon production technologies and through developing a private-public partnership to stimulate innovation in the energy-intensive process industries.
Recognition of the industrial policy initiative
On 10 December 2010, the Competitiveness Council adopted conclusions which welcomed the industrial policy flagship initiative and expressed its support for a number of priorities. The Council positively received better monitoring of Member States industrial competitiveness and encouraged implementation of the proposals.
The European Parliament adopted its resolution on 9th March 2011 (Lange Report). The EP also welcomed the Commission communication and its main elements, while emphasising the need for an ambitious implementation and the importance of the sustainability dimension.
The European Economic and Social Committee adopted its opinion on 4 May 2011 stressing in particular the importance of better coordinating national policies and programmes.
The Committee of the Regions adopted its opinion on 11th October 2011 supporting EU plans for more competitive, greener industry.
The conference is organised after the first year of implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative on "An integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era". In the course of the last year a significant progress has been achieved in the implementation and a number of actions have been adopted.
The conference will tackle the challenges and opportunities of globalisation for European businesses. It will discuss the growth and economic reform agenda needed to address the current economic crisis, such as access to finance, improving the business environment, and structural competitiveness. It will also look at the on-going third industrial revolution that will lead to the formation of new goods, services, and business models that will reshape EU industry in the future.