Mechanical engineering is one of the largest industrial sectors in the EU economy in terms of number of enterprises, employment, production, and the generation of added value. The sector is characterised by relatively small family owned companies. The mechanical engineering industry is an excellent example of an EU sector that is performing well economically.
Mechanical engineering firms are characterised by a relatively high manufacturing intensity. This is mainly explained by three factors:
Due to increases in manufacturing capacities world-wide, improved innovation and research is vital to the competitiveness of the sector.
There is a strong demand from stakeholders for more effective market surveillance to protect businesses against unfair competition.
There is also a need for a stable, predictable, and coherent regulatory environment that embraces 'smart' principles and is as straightforward as possible. The 'New Approach' legislative technique (where legislation establishes essential requirements, with detailed technical solutions laid down in standards) is generally well-regarded, particularly in respect to innovation.
The European Commission promotes the global and sustainable competitiveness of the mechanical engineering sector by taking the necessary actions to help it face challenges.
This includes the drafting of regulations regarding key aspects of the sector including Directives to harmonise standards in key areas such as:
The competitiveness of the industry relies on excellent innovative products, and know-how and skills, as well as the ability to meet customer needs. The Commission’s activities aim to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry. This is important in order to maintain and expand the activities of these sectors, especially with regard to:
A study on the competitiveness of EU Mechanical Engineering, in 2012, contributed to the initiatives of the Commission in strengthening the performance of the sector by assessing any changes to its overall competitiveness.
The results of the study offer recommendations on organisation and industry structure; market regulation; financial and labour markets; the innovation environment; and access to third markets.
The Commission ensures that only safe and compliant products can be placed on the EU market. This is to protect consumers and professional users, and to guarantee a competitive single EU market.
To aid in this work, a conference on market surveillance and machinery was held in 2011. The event was attended by industry representatives, European national market surveillance and customs authorities, and others.