Thank you Minister Altmaier – cher Peter – and your entire team for the organisation of this Council. We had a very productive discussion on the central role of EU industry and our Single Market in our economic recovery.
The context of today’s discussion is of course the second wave of the outbreak that we are experiencing.
Against that backdrop, I reminded Ministers to remain very vigilant and resist the temptation of drawing up restrictions to the Single Market that we saw during the early weeks of the crisis this Spring.
In times of crisis, it is particularly important to ensure the proper functioning of the Single Market. Because we need medical equipment to reach those who need it most. We need essential transport to continue circulating across our borders. And we need supply chains to continue functioning to preserve our economy – and our jobs – as much as possible.
The Single Market, our engine of recovery and resilience
During our discussions this morning on the implementation of the EU industry strategy, I emphasized that the Single Market is our ultimate engine for economic recovery.
Brexit has highlighted the attractiveness of our Single Market and also of our ability to project ourselves as a continent. We fully support Michel Barnier’s work to preserve the level playing field and the integrity of our Single Market. Not a sheet of cigarette paper comes between us!
The Single Market, as I was saying, is the pillar for the resilience of our industry and our services. Because industry and services have become increasingly interlinked.
To unleash the full potential of our industry, we will work on removing a number of barriers in the cross-border provision of services. I gave the example of the construction industry, but there are many others. This assessment will be an important part of our industry strategy update.
What other elements are we working on?
Increasing our strategic autonomy
Ministers rightly stressed the need to invest in the innovative capacity of our European industries and to accelerate the digital transition. We were able to reaffirm our common ambition to make Europe a resilient industrial power, at the forefront of the energy and digital transition.
We need to ensure our competitiveness, our technological advantage in fields such as data, processors, connectivity and batteries.
We need to ensure our security of supply of essential commodities such as raw materials or pharmaceutical ingredients. We have already presented a number of initiatives to diversify our sources of supply, and we are working on the mandate by the European Council to map all our strategic dependencies per industrial ecosystems and present proposals on how to reduce them.
Ensure the level playing field
We also want to remain the main destination for foreign direct investment, but with increased controls. We need to make sure that foreign companies that want to access our market do so on an equal footing with our European companies.
The discussions highlighted our shared goal to acquire effective instruments to achieve this, including on our public procurement markets. Following the public consultation on our White Paper on foreign subsidies, we will present proposals in spring.
Implementing our industry strategy and our ecosystem approach
Lastly, I explained the innovative approach that we propose: the ecosystem matrix.
To better identify the priority needs of each industrial ecosystem, we are currently working on a complete mapping of the needs and the tools that can be provided: financing, regulatory framework, trade policy and other instruments to reduce our strategic dependencies, partnerships and transversal initiatives such as Alliances which each benefit several industrial ecosystems at the same time.
This mapping will enable us to target our collective efforts where they are needed most, without silos.
I am firmly convinced that such inclusive approach that places our industry and our single market at the center will be key to our recovery.