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Industrial competitiveness

Industrial Policy Communication 2014

In his 2013 State of the Union speech, President Barroso promised that the European Commission would “make further proposals for an industrial policy fit for the 21st century”, and that “a strong dynamic industrial base is indispensable for a strong European economy”.

On 22 January 2014, the Commission adopted a new Communication on Industrial policy “For a European Industrial Renaissance”as a contribution to the 2014 March European Council debate on industrial policy. It sets out the Commission’s key priorities for industrial policy, it provides an overview of actions already undertaken and puts forward a limited number of new actions to speed up the attainment of these objectives.

Europe needs to urgently lay the basis for post-crisis growth and modernisation. This is one of the key messages of the new Communication. To achieve this, the Commission is calling on Member States to recognise the central importance of industry for creating jobs and growth, and of mainstreaming industry-related competitiveness concerns across all policy areas.

The current integrated industrial policy approach remains in place, as outlined in the Industrial Policy Communications of 2010 and 2012. The new Communication stresses the importance of full and effective implementation of industrial policy in the EU and aims to facilitate this. Member States will play a capital role in the implementation of reforms to improve competitiveness.

A number of key priorities are raised for consideration and for policy guidance at the highest political level, the European Council: continue deepening the mainstreaming of industrial competitiveness in other policy areas; maximising the potential of the internal market; decisively implementing the instruments of regional development with national and EU instruments in support of innovation, skills, and entrepreneurship; to encourage investment, businesses require access to critical inputs; further facilitate the integration of EU firms in global value chains; the endorsement of the reindustrialisation efforts in line with the Commission´s aspiration of raising the contribution of industry to GDP to as much as 20% by 2020.

The new initiative on industrial policy therefore focuses on concrete measures to improve the implementation of established industrial policy priorities aimed at delivering industrial change. Main initiatives proposed include:

  • The Commission calls on the Council and the Parliament to adopt proposals on energy, transport, space and digital communications networks, as well as to implement and enforce legislation to complete the internal market.
  • Furthermore, industrial modernisation must be pursued by investing in innovation, resource efficiency, new technologies, skills and access to finance, accelerated by the use of dedicated EU funds.
  • The Communication promotes a more business-friendly Europe through actions to simplify the legislative framework and improve theefficiency of public administration at EU, national and regional levels.
  • SMEs and entrepreneurship are addressed through a number of proposed actions, such as updating of the Small Business Act and reinforcement of the Entrepreneurship Action Plan.
  • Other key issues include easier access to third country markets through harmonisation of international standards, open public procurement, patent protection and economic diplomacy.
  • The Commission will therefore propose a comprehensive approach to anticipating and facilitating industrial change at regional level, also in the context of Smart Specialisation, to ensure better integration of industrial and regional policies.

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