Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) are a priority for European industrial policy. The European Strategy for KETs aims to increase the exploitation of KETs in the EU and to reverse the decline in manufacturing to stimulate growth and jobs.
KETs are instrumental in modernising Europe’s industrial base and in driving the development of entirely new industries.
The European Commission has identified KETs as a key priority within its Europe 2020 strategy. KETs are seen as essential to flagship initiatives such as Innovation Union and Digital Single Market. Their importance to Europe’s industrial future is also underlined in the industrial policy Communications, 'For a European Industrial Renaissance' (2014) and A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ (2012).
The European strategy on KETs has strong support from EU countries, regions, industry, and others involved in industrial innovation.
The KETs strategy is a combined effort of different Directorate-Generals of the European Commission, including Directorate General (DG) Research and Innovation, DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology, DG Regional Policy, DG Trade, and DG Competition, under the political leadership of DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
In its 2009 Communication, ‘Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU’, the Commission identified KETs that strengthen the EU’s industrial and innovation capacity to address societal challenges and proposed measures to improve framework conditions. The Communication is part of the development of EU industrial policy and the preparation for the new European plan for innovation.
The Communication is complemented by the 2009 Staff Working Document, 'Current situation of key enabling technologies in Europe' that explains why advanced materials, nanotechnology, micro- and nano-electronics, biotechnology, and photonics are priority areas for improving European industrial competitiveness.
In June 2012, the European Commission adopted the Communication, ‘A European strategy for Key Enabling Technologies – A bridge to growth and jobs’. This Communication outlines the European strategy to boost the deployment of KETs.
The main aim was to align efforts to make use of public resources to support KETs. While not proposing an increase of public financing for KETs, this guidance allowed for the more efficient and productive allocation of resources.
This was followed by two Communications on industrial policy that highlighted the role of KETs:
Several groups have been set up to ensure the successful implementation of the KETs strategy: