News from Europe

For a European industrial renaissance… Gaining competitivness


P. Capellini

On 22 January 2014 the European Commission has issued its Communication «For a European industrial renaissance», with the aim of diverting the industrial decline and give impulse to reach the 20% target of GDP by 2020 for manufacturing activities.

In order to achieve this goal, the European Commission calls on the Council and the European Parliament to take decisions on the most strategic fields as space, digital communications, internal market, energy, transport, quality of public administration, raw material, trade and R&D. Simplification should also be pursued especially for what concerns the legislative process (implementation of existing acts and revision or drawing of new ones) and the efficiency of public administration and red tape management. Need of simplification regarding the legislative framework is requested taking into account that today there are more than 30 directives and regulations applying to industrial products at the same time, both those covering specific industrial products and those that apply horizontally.

Despite its over 80% of Europe’s exports and private research and innovation, industry related GDP has further declined from summer 2013 and it is far away from its 2020 target established by the Commission in 2012. Currently industry accounts for about 16% EU GDP.

To divert the trend

The Communication underlines the following priorities to help the competitiveness of the European industry:

  • to secure the access to energy and raw materials at competitive prices;
  • to improve the effectiveness of the internal market, by developing the requested infrastructures, setting out the necessary services and simplifying the regulatory framework. The European Commission intends to focus on the consolidation of legislation and enforce mechanisms without burdening the industry;
  • to push on funding for the real economy, addressing financial instruments and investments to innovation, research and industrial projects;
  • to support small and medium enterprises in increasing competitiveness in the global markets and simplifying access to third countries, by unlocking private funds through the elimination of remaining obstacles for venture capital funds and boosting cross-border operations by SMEs.

The Communication invites Member States to take actions to support their national industry and boost competitiveness across all policy areas. The 2012 Report on the Member States industrial competitiveness performance shows that the industrial performance is not balanced around Europe; even though Member States have made good progress in strengthening internal industrial development, different scores can be identified among them, based on the following indicators: manufacturing productivity, export performance, innovation and sustainability, business environment and infrastructure, and finance and investment.

Taking into account such indicators, the following groups of countries have been detected:

  • consistent performers: countries with technologically advanced industrial companies and highly skilled personnel. In this group there are countries such as Germany, Denmark, Austria, UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands;
  • uneven performers: countries which are good in some criteria but below average in others. This group includes Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Estonia, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg;
  • catching-up group: countries facing many challenges but which are still characterized by weak innovation and low knowledge transfer capacity. Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania belong to this group.