Article published in politico.eu — 14-3-2017 (link).
Europe needs an industrial policy.
The European Commission has not done enough to address the challenges that lie ahead.
By Marco Mensink,
The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) appreciates European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s pro-industry message in “No to nationalism, yes to industry” (March 9), but his suggestion that industrial policy can be blended into the Commission’s many existing legislative packages could not be further from the truth.
Real industrial renaissance will not happen by accident. It requires a dedicated plan from the EU and its member states.
Cefic, along with 125 industry sectors, has signed a common declaration to call for a strong new industrial policy. The Competitiveness Council has publicly backed our call, and European heads of state support it too. Yet the Commission still underestimates the size of the challenge ahead.
We agree with the Commission on one point: Yet another paper will not make a difference. But a dedicated industrial policy — with a strong commitment to free and fair trade and affordable energy, and pledges to develop EU consumer markets and tackle protectionism and investment policies in other regions — will.
As other economies invest in new, cutting-edge technology and infrastructure, Europe has no choice but to upgrade its existing facilities in order to keep up. We must become more attractive to industry investment if we want to keep up with other regions, which actively promote manufacturing.
Putting into action European policies on investment, climate change and the circular economy is not only about future innovation but about reviving our industry.
We must also renew our focus on enforcement, and ensure that EU imports comply with the same rules that bind the bloc’s producers. That’s not protectionism, it’s common sense.
Europe’s industries have benefitted as companies, employees and citizens from the EU’s four fundamental freedoms. Our top priority must now be to keep improving our internal market and prevent unilateral, ad-hoc laws by national governments.
Juncker’s white paper laid out his proposed scenarios for the future of Europe — but did not address their impact on European industry. As the Continent prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treat of Rome later this month, the answer to ensuring its prosperity over the next 60 years is to finally commit to a common industrial policy. The European chemical industry and others are willing to play their part.
Director general, European Chemical Industry Council