Today the European Commission presented its updated industrial strategy for the EU intended to bring about a globally competitive, sustainable and digital Europe.
VDA President Hildegard Müller commented: “European industry, and especially the German automotive industry, is both the driver and the guarantor of growth and prosperity in Europe. The transition to climate neutrality and digitization will be successful only if the EU creates the necessary competitive conditions that are open to all technologies, thus helping us overcome this challenge under market-economy conditions successfully, sustainably and in a position of global leadership. With the right strategy, growth is possible that makes us stronger and more innovative than ever before – while simultaneously integrating sustainability and job creation.”
The EU is certainly making the correct first step by wishing to use economic indicators in the future to measure the development of industrial performance (also in international comparison). However, it is disappointing that, for example, in contrast to the climate protection targets, the EU is not setting a specific long-term goal for industrial economic growth. Yet this growth is ultimately the most important target for an industrial strategy.
“Unfortunately, the European Commission now seems to think that Europe is capable of even less than under the Lisbon Strategy twenty years ago. But that sends out the wrong signal, because in global competition for growth the EU is up against those regions that jeopardize jobs on our continent. During the last decade, Europe was sadly the economic region with the slowest growth in the world after Japan. Europe has to regain its worldwide lead – not only in climate protection, but also in economic growth. We need economic growth in order to guarantee people’s prosperity, and to finance climate protection and digitization,” according to Müller.
“A smart industrial strategy must align climate protection to market-economy principles and be open to all technologies. The path pursued so far of expensive and often confusing individual regulations must now be replaced with an overall CO2 emissions trading scheme including the transport sector.” It is hoped that this will feature in the revised ETS Directive, which is to be presented soon and to which the industrial strategy refers.
So it will be crucial that the huge effort involved in the transformation, which demands investments reaching new heights in the billions of euros, is facilitated by appropriate regulatory conditions. “This is about millions of jobs and the future of European industry in international competition,” Müller stressed.
It is an important signal that the Commission is backing openness in trade and investment, and wishes this to give industry options for wide diversification of supply chains – because this will avoid strategic dependencies.
Another important factor is having sufficient flanking for corporate investment provided by the Member States and the EU. “We want to achieve climate-neutral mobility by 2050 at the latest – the EU therefore has to promote investment in innovation and establish as quickly as possible a Europe-wide infrastructure for charging and filling up. This applies all the more because only a few days ago the EU approved a stricter climate target of -55% for 2030 – which is the most ambitious target of any major economic region in the world,” Müller stated.