Industry is vitally important for Europe’s regions and cities providing 50 million jobs as well as the means for exports and innovation. Heinz Lehmann (DE/EPP), Member of the Saxony regional parliament, has therefore proposed that the EU’s industrial policy strategy fully responds to current and future challenges, channels the opportunities stemming from global competitiveness and underlines the centrality of regional ecosystems in industrial modernisation.
Outlining his opinion at the European Committee of the Regions’ Commission for Economic Policy today, Heinz Lehmann called for 20% of GDP to be allocated to industry by 2020 and for a particular emphasis to be placed on innovation, key enabling technologies, important projects of common European interest, digitalisation and SMEs, due to their “cross-cutting significance“. He also called for a place-based approach to European industrial policy, which is supported by an appropriate budget for research and innovation.
European industry should be enshrined as a goal in the ninth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. By raising the target from spending 3% of GDP on R&D to 3.5% by 2020 at the latest, we would be able to strengthen industry’s capacity for change and innovation
Looking at the competition for a range of Europe’s traditional and emerging industries, the rapporteur insisted on a level playing field and highlighted that “a well-functioning single market in goods and services can facilitate the integration of companies in global value chains and is therefore essential for the success of Europe’s industry.” However, he also called for more flexible public procurement in order to boost innovation. According to Mr Lehmann, Europe’s regions and cities should strive to support an environment that is conducive to innovation in order to improve the acceptance of industrial activities at all ages. He also places a great value on vocational training and ensuring people have the right skills and competences for modern, environmental and digitally-friendly industries.
Following an exchange with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, the draft opinion was supported by the vast majority of the Commission for Economic Policy today and is due for adoption at the March 2018 Plenary Session.