Europe must change course on industrial policy in order to accelerate recovery and keep up with competitors, the European Commission said, on 22 January, in a communication entitled 'For a European industrial renaissance'. Although industrial policy is a member state competence, the Commission is urging the EU28 to ensure that their policies are better anchored in the Union's economic agenda. The communication is the EU executive's contribution to the next European Council, on 20-21 March, and proposes better coordinated governance rather than any new initiatives. Essentially, it re-emphasises and slightly re-phrases existing measures, and only includes a handful of new proposals.

For UEAPME, the European association for SMEs, "the proposed measures do not go far enough, and in reality will change nothing". According to the lobby for businesses, BusinessEurope, a clearer and tougher approach is needed to put industrial competitiveness back at the heart of the EU's industrial policies.


Currently, industry accounts for 15.1% of GDP, meaning that "Europe is still far from the 20% target of industry's share in Europe's GDP by 2020," underlined Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani. He added: "That is why industrial competitiveness has to be at the heart of the March 2014 European Council's political agenda. With today's initiative the Commission sends a clear signal that urgent reindustrialisation and modernisation of our economy is indispensable if we are to create new jobs. We need a strong commitment at the EU and national level to ensure coherence and prioritisation of all instruments at our disposal".

Firstly, this means putting industry back at the heart of the Commission's priorities. The executive has emphasised the importance of a holistic approach, a conclusion already reached last September (see Europolitics 4717). The follow-up, on the other hand, will be more controlled, with particular focus on the impact at national level of improving the business environment and member state policies, both in the annual report on general competitiveness and the report on the EU28. Member states are called on to commit to a pact similar to that which is in place for the budget in order to redirect investment towards industrial production. "To meet the challenge, we need a political response from member states and industry," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The second axis of this policy, which is a...

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