Industrial policy

Industrial policy

The European Commission aims to support industrial modernisation and ensure European leadership in global markets in the context of industrial revolution and digital transformation.

EU industrial policy

The 2014 Communication, For a European Industrial Renaissance sets out the Commission’s priorities for industrial policy and calls on EU countries to recognise the central importance of industry for creating growth and jobs. It provides an overview of actions undertaken and puts forward new ones to:

  • mainstream industrial competitiveness in other policy areas
  • maximise the potential of the Single Market, notably through standards and market surveillance
  • use the instruments for regional development to support innovation, skills and entrepreneurship
  • develop the skills that industries need and facilitate labour mobility
  • promote access to critical inputs (energy and raw materials) to encourage industrial investment
  • facilitate the integration of EU firms in global value chains

This policy was complemented in 2016 by the Communication, Digitising European Industry - Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market which focuses on digital transformation and addresses related challenges such as funding, ICT standardisation, big data or skills. Moreover the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative adopted in 2016 aims to give Europe's many innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to become world leading companies.

What the Commission does

We are committed to helping European industries be competitive and generate growth and jobs. We develop policies and actions for the modernisation of the industrial base and for the transition towards an ever more innovative, modern and sustainable economy.

Sectorial action

Industrial policy contributes to Europe's competitiveness by establishing appropriate framework conditions (such as smart legislation). In this regard, the Commission has developed sector-specific action plans and smart legislation that supports key industrial sectors including: chemicalsautomotivetourismtextiles, fashion and creative industriesraw materials, metals, minerals and forest-based industriesmechanical engineering; electrical and electronic engineering; the food and drink industryhealthcarebiotechnologyaeronautics and maritime industries.

Specific actions are directed at sectors with geostrategic implications and a high degree of public intervention, such as defence industries, space or key enabling technologies (KETs).

Industrial policy is implemented in conjunction with competition policy to prevent distortions in the Single Market through control of state aid and mergers, as well as antitrust enforcement.

To help to achieve our policy goals, and to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, we develop and manage targeted support actions under the following EU programmes:

Regional action

In addition, in the context of the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Commission helps EU countries and regions to work together on industrial platforms. These partnerships, notably between regions, are facilitated through a Smart Specialisation Platform for industrial modernisation. 

Previous industrial policy communications

The 2012 Communication, A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery, initiated a new partnership between the EU, its member countries and industry. It focused on three pillars:

  • investments in innovation
  • better market conditions
  • access to finance and capital, human capital, and skills

Six task forces were set up to implement specific measures and boost investment for innovation across key priority areas: advanced manufacturing, key enabling technologies, bio-based products, sustainable industrial policy, clean vehicles and smart grids.

As a result of this Communication:

Previously, the 2010 Communication, An Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era promoted a comprehensive approach to meet both competitiveness and sustainability objectives. It resulted in the first integrated strategy encompassing competition, trade, innovation and energy.