Policy and strategy

Policy and strategy

Providing 12 million jobs, the automotive industry is a key EU employer. Due to its strong economic links to many other industrial sectors, it has an important multiplier effect in the economy. At the same time, road transport emissions continue to represent a main source of air pollution. The aim of the EU’s policy in the automotive sector is to establish an internal market for vehicles, ensure a high level of environmental protection and safety, strengthen competitiveness, and provide a stable level playing field for the industry.

High Level Group on Automotive Industry 'GEAR 2030'

The High Level Group GEAR 2030 was formally established on the basis of the Commission Decision C(2015) 6943 (89 kB) of 19 October 2015.

GEAR 2030 analysed and discussed the key trends and challenges which will affect the automotive industry over the next 15 years. 

The group made recommendations to reinforce the competitiveness of the European automotive value chain. They produced jointly agreed roadmaps that set objectives, specify milestones and clearly define the responsibilities of different stakeholders.

CARS 2020 Action Plan (2012)

To reinforce the industry’s competitiveness and address climate, environmental, and societal challenges, the European Commission adopted the CARS 2020 Action Plan in 2012. The plan is built around four main areas:

  • financing innovations
  • improving market conditions
  • facilitating internationalisation
  • responding to change.

CARS 2020 Report on the state of play of the outcome of the work of the High Level Group (2014)

When the CARS 2020 Action Plan was published in November 2012, the European automotive industry was facing severe difficulties from a fall in demand. The launch of the CARS 2020 High Level Group a few months later aimed to ensure that the Commission supports the sector and strengthens the automotive industry in the long run.

In October 2014, after two years of intensive work, the CARS 2020 process has been completed and a final report (971 kB) has been released. The report outlines achievements and indicates the direction for future short and medium-term actions.

Competitiveness of the automotive industry

To enhance competitiveness in the EU's automotive industry, the Commission has been focusing on improvements in four main areas:

  • smart regulation
  • international harmonisation
  • bilateral regulatory dialogues
  • access to finance and market access support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Smart regulation

Automotive products are regulated through EU laws for vehicle type-approval. To improve the level playing field, increase the trust of consumers, and reduce administrative burden, all policy proposals are subject to competitiveness proofing.

International harmonisation

Global technical harmonisation is a key factor in strengthening the competitiveness of the EU's automotive industry. Common technical requirements, like those under the UNECE framework, reduce development costs and avoid the duplication of administrative procedures. More on harmonisation.

Bilateral regulatory dialogues

Bilateral regulatory dialogues help ensure coherent regulations between Europe and non-EU countries. The EU focuses on promoting a common approach to saving energy, reducing emissions, and mitigating the impact of burdensome certification measures.

Access to finance and market access support for SMEs

  • COSME - small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger firms in the automotive sector can benefit from improved access to debt and equity finance;
  • SME instrument - provides finance for research undertaken by highly innovative automotive SMEs.