28 February 2017
European Commission, Charlemagne Building
170 Rue de la Loi -1000, Brussels
On 28 February 2017, 400 participants, key industrial players, global trend shapers and high-level EU policymakers gathered in Brussels to take stock of what the EU’s industrial policy has achieved and debated on the future of European industry.
Please find below a short summary of the event.
The event opened with a video message from Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who stated that Europe’s industry is strong. It has retained a leading position in global markets.
Industry is at the heart of the Commission’s political priorities, and all its policies are geared to support industrial competitiveness.
The nature of industry is changing, driven by rapid technological change. The evolution of industrial activity is characterised by digitalisation, clean and circular technologies, and a higher reliance on services.
The Commission fully supports its industry and makes a strong contribution to jobs and growth in Europe. The Commission has acted by establishing industrial competitiveness into all major policy initiatives from the Investment Plan and Horizon 2020 to the Single Market Strategy and from circular economy to Digitising European Industry. The strategic approach to industrial competitiveness aims to empower businesses, citizens and entire regions to be fit for the future.
Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen (Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness), Commissioners Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Internal Market, Industry, SMEs and Entrepreneurship) and Carlos Moedas (Research and Innovation) also participated in the event.
Ms. Bieńkowska reaffirmed that Europe’s industry is a world leader with a well-educated workforce and with almost 23 million people who started their own SMEs.
“We have the creativity and courage needed to experiment and innovate.” – The Commissioner said – “We have the terms, the workers, the productivity and the markets, but we have to reach out for the opportunities. We have an investment gap of at least 400 million euros and this comes at a cost in terms of productivity. The benefits of the innovation are not being spread across Europe and that is why we have increased the investment plan and extended to the partner countries.”
In order to identify gaps to make further progress towards smart, clean and innovative industry that creates employment and high living standards for EU citizens, the event addressed the following questions:
- What has been achieved by mainstreaming industrial competitiveness into EU policy?
- How will people find their place in the new industrial revolution?
- What is the role of regional ecosystems for industrial transformation?
- What are the key technologies for the future of industry?
II. Parallel sessions
II.1 People: Creativity and Future of work
Creativity is one of the main differentiating advantage of Europe. It defines European identities, including industrial identities, and it has the power to boost the competitiveness of European industry. Besides pure technological abilities, soft skills like networking and creativity might well be one of the key instruments for building teams, talents and business modelling thinking.
What more do we need to do for the future of work? Investment in skills is one of the key areas for investment in the EU; especially cooperation, communication and relation skills at individual and collective level.
Skills policies oriented towards industry upgrading should not only aim at investing in more and better skills, but also at aligning education with labour market needs, improving the school-to-work transition and encouraging the long-term adaptability of skills.
II.2 Territory: Industrial transformation in European regions and Ecosystem for investments for growth
European regions are key for transformation.
EU should be more self-confident in the address of the industrial transformation and create better linkages between the regions. The EU needs to inspire more confidence in the investment markets and to create a long-term vision for investors and for industry.
EU’s directions need to catch up with market orientations for a significant speeding up and skilling up of the investments in order to make the respective regions more attractive to external investors and encourage knowledge transfer and regional learning.
II.3 Technologies: Advanced technologies of the future and SME access to technologies
One of the biggest challenges for Small and Medium Enterprises is access to technologies. SMEs need help to update their technologies as well as the possibility to get in contact with experts speaking their business language who could provide them with hands-on expertise.
Lower taxation is certainly an asset and funding could be increased to facilitate cross border access. Most challenges are around speed of market; digitalisation, new material, and data security need new manufactory techniques.
The question is thus not whether industrial policies should be adopted or not, but, more pragmatically, how they should be designed and how they can be implemented more effectively in order to generate growth and prosperity.
Ultimately, industrial policies need to be about people, by creating more and better jobs, especially for the youth. Governments need to support structural change proactively to define better policies for better lives.
EU’s industry must be empowered to thrive in a changing world where digitalisation and recanalization will transform the way we work and power the economy in the next decade.
The Commission’s job is to support industry in adapting to these changes: by investing in skills, education and lifelong learning to close the gap. Today is about finding ways to help industry embrace transformation and make this work for its workforce and the consumers.
In 10 years, Europe will receive investments from all over the world and will trade with the rest of the world.
Industrial strength will work in tandem with digital invasion and lead technology will generate sustainable growth creating new and better jobs, new business models, and new opportunities.
To make this vision a reality we need:
- To have a clear vision for manufactory because it will be vital to Europe, as the engine for competitiveness;
- Policy makers who support companies and their people.
Digitalisation will help amplify these achievements.
Manufacturing is changing fast and digitalisation is boosting productivity, in-house resource and efficiency, as well as creating exciting new business opportunities and most importantly, new jobs.
Digitalisation of industry is creating a whole new ecosystem based on gathering and connections of productive systems.
We need an ambitious, coordinated European industrial policy that joints the dots between all policies affected manufactories and we must continue to defend free trade which has brought prosperity for over 70 years.
EFMC – European Fund Management Consulting
PR and Communication Manager