Europe must enable industry to compete more effectively within the Single Market and global context to create jobs and generate sustainable growth. This requires a realignment of EU policies in support of industrial competitiveness.
Increasing industry’s share of production to 20% by 2020 would create at least 400.000 new jobs a year, reversing the losses of recent years. Alongside those new jobs in the industrial sector, many more jobs would be created in the supporting service sector.
The strategy paper builds on the first set of horizontal policy recommendations published by BUSINESSEUROPE in “Manufacturing a prosperous Europe” (date February 2013). It puts forward a series of concrete policy proposals in nine policy fields of strategic importance where progress is needed for a pro-industrial growth environment.
BUSINESSEUROPE’s 5 key recommendations to support industrial competitiveness:
- Open global markets
An ambitious and competitiveness-driven internal and external trade policy agenda is a priority for growth. Fighting protectionism and opening foreign markets should be the leitmotiv of an ambitious EU free trade agenda.
- Get the balance right in energy and climate policy
The EU needs to reassess its approach to energy. The high cost lessons from the current EU policy need to be fully addressed while taking game changers as the shale gas revolution in the US and the very limited progress in global climate talks into account. This requires an energy policy that addresses security of supply and climate/environmental concerns in a cost-competitive manner and that promotes significantly improved coordination of member state energy mix strategies.
- Finance future industrial growth
Improving access to corporate finance is vital for industrial companies and economic growth. These actions need to be underpinned by steps towards the implementation of the banking union. European financial market reforms need to balance safeguarding financial stability and financing needs of companies without generating undue negative impacts on lending. Furthermore, the market-led development of alternatives to traditional bank finance must be supported.
- Secure the supply of raw materials at competitive prices
European industry is heavily dependent on the import of critical raw materials and energy. It is essential to reduce export restrictions on raw materials applied by some resource holding countries and to ensure that EU environmental and other legislation does not inadvertedly undermine the import of primary or secondary raw materials into Europe.
- Translate skills into employment
The availability of a skilled workforce, in particular people with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills, is an essential to improve industrial competitiveness and innovation. Europe must increase the number of students and graduates in STEM subjects. In addition, the principles of work-based learning as apprenticeships and dual learning elements must be included as well as strengthened in Member States’ existing systems.