Among the European Commission’s first proposals under the “100 days priorities”, President von der Leyen has stressed the importance of putting forward a plan for a new industrial strategy, as a backbone of a sustainable, competitive and innovative economy.
In her mission letter to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner of the Internal Market, President von der Leyen highlights the need for a comprehensive long-term strategy for Europe’s industrial future, covering all aspects that affect the industry, such as investment, public procurement, skills, innovation, small and medium-sized businesses. The new industrial strategy will be strategically oriented to support the transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050, allowing Europe to lead globally in the circular economy and clean technologies.
All those issues will be central to CEEP in 2020. Our focus on this new Industrial Strategy will be relying on 4 pillars:
- Emphasise the role of public services and services of general interest as the backbone of the EU industry, especially in the face of digitalization and decarbonization;
- Highlight the need to address all aspects of the industry and its competitiveness, from investment and public procurement to trade, skills and R&D;
- Address the distortive effects of foreign trade ownership and subsidies in the internal market;
- Support simplification and lift of administrative burden.
The new EU Industrial Strategy should be presented by the European Commission within the first quarter of 2020, while a leak is already circulating. Entitled “Building block for a comprehensive industrial strategy”, the document identifies key areas that the European industrial development should tackle. Four key takeaways from this first document are particularly relevant for CEEP and its members:
- On the Digital Services Act, the ambitious plan to regulate the online ecosystem, the document identifies the key areas which need legal intervention, such as dissemination of illegal content and lack of transparency in online advertising.
- With regards to the leaked draft white paper on Artificial Intelligence which is going to constitute the EU’s future AI strategy, the document stresses the importance of building a proper legal framework for the data economy and protection, the basis for the digital technologies’ development. Important aspects of this legal framework will be liability, accountability, transparency, and safety.
- About investments, the goal of the European Commission will be to ensure a level playing field and reciprocity of market access by EU companies by addressing distortions of competition by third countries. It also mentions the International Procurement Instrument.
- On the measures to go ‘beyond 5G’ and ‘towards 6G’, the document mentions a “strategic European partnership” aimed at supporting the European leadership in network technologies, introducing also new standards for innovative technologies.
The document finally addresses that ecological, not just the digital transformation, will be covered by the strategy since all European industries should be involved in achieving the objective of a climate-neutral economy by 2050. The focus will be on decarbonization, hydrogen technology supported by the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), circular economy, and sustainable and smart transport policy.