On 22 January 2014, the European Commission unveiled a communication highlighting the need for a European Industrial Renaissance. The Commission urges Member States to recognise the central importance of industry for creating jobs and growth and to mainstream industry-related competitiveness concerns across all policy areas.
In the communication ‘For a European Industrial Renaissance’ the Commission calls on the Council and the Parliament “to adopt proposals on energy, transport, space and digital communications networks as well as implement and enforce legislation to complete the internal market”. According to the Commission, modernisation of the EU industry is a priority that must be pursued by investing in innovation, resource efficiency, new technologies, skills and access to finance.
The Communication pleads for “a more business friendly Europe” and recommends actions “to simplify the legislative framework and improve the efficiency of public administration”.
“Europe is still far from the 20% target of industry’s share in Europe’s GDP by 2020. That is why industrial competitiveness has to be at the heart of the March 2014 European Council political agenda", said Antonio Tajani, the EU Commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and IndustriAll Europe think the Commission's communication falls short of delivering quality employment for Europe’s workers and does not address the problem of youth unemployment.
“The social dimension in this proposal that should underpin a productive industry and deliver education, training, social security and workers’ participation is barely touched upon. Any so-called recovery would be a jobless recovery and not the jolt required to jumpstart Europe’s economy. A strong legal framework for anticipation and management of economic change is absolutely necessary”, said industriAll Europe General Secretary Ulrich Eckelmann.
Both unions regret that EU Commission still believes that labour market reforms and deregulation can provide a solution to the crisis in Europe. They consider that these policies have been applied for years without any tangible results. The ETUC is also very critical towards the Commission's deregulation programme REFIT because it undermines workers' rights, in particular in the field of health and safety at the workplace.
The communication for a European industrial renaissance was launched together with the new 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy.
David Coats (Research Fellow, The Smith Institute, London)