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Speech by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska at the European Industry Day - The Single Market and the industry of the future

Met dank overgenomen van E. (Elżbieta) Bieńkowska, gepubliceerd op vrijdag 23 februari 2018.

@ European Commission 2018

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the second edition of the European Industry Day.

And it is great to see the enthusiasm for this Day.

Within one week, we received more than 1700 registrations.

We received over 80 proposals for stakeholder workshops.

And there are around 50 local Industry Day events happening across Europe!

The idea behind the Industry Day is very simple.

We want to give you a platform to speak and to discuss.

Because we need you.

We need your ideas and your experiences.

And we need your commitment.

To make the industrial transition a success.

To make the European economy more competitive and innovative.

And above all, to create sustainable jobs.

Where we are

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let's start with the positive.

And that is that the transition to a digital, low-carbon global economy is a major opportunity for Europe.

We can create and offer better products and services.

We can create and offer new and better jobs for our citizens.

We can improve the standard of living of all in our society, including the most disadvantaged.

And we can do so while protecting our most precious resource: the planet we live on.

And this new economy offers chances for all across Europe, in all our regions and local communities.

This isn't empty rhetoric: it is practical reality.

But more than this, they can change lives.

It is the medical innovation that provides cheaper and better diagnosis and help to our elderly and sick.

It is the environmental start-up that finds a new way of cutting energy use and waste in our homes.

It is the online sharing economy platform that allows people in local communities to address challenges such as food waste and poverty at the same time.

And Europe is in a very strong position to be in the forefront of this transition.

We have the skills.

We have the innovators.

We have the supply networks.

EU industrial sectors like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mechanical engineering, fashion and high-end industries are amongst the global leaders.

Over 1.5 million new net jobs have been created in industry since 2013.

And industry accounts for two thirds of the EU's exports.

But I also know that the transition is hard.

I understand why some companies are reluctant to make radical changes.

Change is never easy.

Change requires investment.

Change requires different skills.

And above all, change requires taking risks.

And I understand the fears of our employees and citizens about what this new economy will mean for them.

For instance, nearly three quarters of Europeans believe the use of robots and artificial intelligence will mean more jobs will disappear than new jobs created.

But the results also show that the more people are informed or use technologies, the more they are likely to have a positive opinion on them and to trust them.

Those concerns need to be listened to and addressed.

And we are not making the transition evenly across sectors and across Europe.

Productivity and investment are on the rise across Europe, but this is not happening uniformly.

The uptake of digital technologies like big data and the Internet of Things is increasing in most Member States.

On your chairs you can find the Digital Transformation Scoreboard 2018, which we release today showing all this.

But again, it is not happening fast enough and it is not happening equally.

But we have no choice.

Industry needs to adapt.

Otherwise, change will happen without you.

Just as it did in the past to those who did not adapt fast enough.

Need for action

Adapting to change is the role of businesses.

But we are here to work with you on this.

We need to provide the right framework conditions.

This is the approach of our Industrial Policy Strategy.

Vice President Katainen explained to you yesterday the progress we have achieved since September.

So I will focus on three specific aspects that will be further discussed this afternoon.

First, our companies need to be on the edge of technological change.

That's why we are working on stimulating investment in Key Enabling Technologies.

Under Horizon 2020 alone, we invest 6 billion Euros in research and development in this area.

From advanced materials and advanced manufacturing to biotech to high-performance computing and nano-electronics.

We need to discuss with you the next steps to ensure leadership in the key enabling technologies for the future.

But we don't need just research and development in technologies.

What matters is their uptake by industry.

With new production lines which often require substantial investments.

In certain cases, we need to cooperate across Europe to compete on a global level.

This is why we encourage public authorities and industries to join their forces, especially for Important Projects of Common European Interest.

The Commission has just set up a new Strategic Forum on this.

We want to facilitate large investment projects by several Member States and industries in key value chains of strategic importance for Europe.

Like micro-chips or batteries for electric vehicles.

On batteries, there is already progress.

But we need to see with you what are the strategic value chains.

And what needs to be done to make joint investments happen.

Second, we are also building our position in Artificial Intelligence, AI.

Europe is home to three of the world's largest producers of industrial robots.

And several non-European companies have opened AI research labs in Europe.

A number of leading start-ups are of European origin such as DeepMind or Magic Pony Technology.

We need to make the most of this.

AI is not just for the tech giants.

We need to especially help our SMEs fully embrace the benefits of AI.

We need to discuss the implications for industry.

And as I said, we need to be aware of the worries of citizens.

So we will soon present a bold AI strategy.

And third, technologies on their own are not the answer.

Europe needs to re-skill and upskill its workforce to adapt to all these changes.

We need to ensure that jobs related to routine and repetitive tasks can be substituted by new and better jobs.

This is partly about industrial demand.

Partly about research but it is also related to education and training.

We need to find innovative solutions breaking silos between research, industry and education and training.

So we are working on skills through New Skills Agenda.

To mention the most recent action, on 17 January we presented a new Digital Education and Training Action Plan.

To make better use of digital technology and support the development of digital competences needed in an age of rapid digital change.

But we also try new approaches.

Like the Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills.

This is a new strategic approach to implement demand driven sectoral skills strategies.

It mobilises all stakeholders based on a shared strategic vision on the future skills needs.

But let's be clear.

The Commission can stimulate action.

But it needs to be rolled out at national and regional level.

With the active participation of industry.

Single Market and industry

But ladies and gentlemen, possibly the biggest way that we can help our industry make the transition is to deliver a full Single Market.

There can be no strong European industry without a strong Single Market.

Far too often, we help our companies across the funding valley of death only to make them struggle up a mountain of paperwork and pointless procedures.

Over barriers of bureaucratic burden.

This year we celebrate 25 years of the Single Market.

It has meant a lot for businesses like yours.

We now have a home market of 500 million people.

Our businesses have a launch pad to compete globally.

That has meant more jobs and more income across the EU.

EU GDP 1.7% higher.

An extra €250 billion a year.

It has been so successful because it was about freedom.

Freedom to sell your great product elsewhere.

The freedom to set up a company or provide a service in a neighbouring country.

The freedom to recruit the right employees.

But we have more to do.

There are still too many gaps, especially on services.

There are still too many restrictions on our professionals, our businesses and consumers.

Each Member State says that they believe in the Single Market.

They all agree that the Single Market is an essential driver of industrial competitiveness.

But too often, when we put forward proposals, they are watered down.

And there are too many areas where Member States adopt laws but do not do enough to implement or enforce them.

So instead of one giant Single Market, we still have fragmentation into national mini markets.

This needs to change.

And I hear some say that we should roll back the freedoms we have, shut out foreign retailers, foreign workers, foreign investment.

In the Commission, we are continuing to push for a full Single Market that benefits our industry and our citizens.

So we are pushing for agreement on the E-card.

It will make it easier for our small companies and start-ups to overcome administrative formalities.

We are pushing for stronger and simpler intellectual property right protection.

We are also looking to make sure that EU generics are no longer at a competitive disadvantage with non-EU players. We are exploring the possibility of a Supplementary Protection Certificate ("SPC") manufacturing waiver.

And just two months ago, we tabled a major goods package.

This is about faster mutual recognition and stronger enforcement.

It is up to Council and Parliament to adopt it promptly.

Ladies and gentlemen, I need your support and pressure on this: it is in your interest.

It means being able to access the inputs and supplies you need for your business at the best price.

It means being able to deal with the right business partner in the right market.

It means having common standards and common rules for your data and your equipment.

Businesses have to be more vocal in the discussion on the future of Single Market.

You need to fight for it.


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is not the technologies which should shape the future.

The future has to be shaped by people.

All of us, the Commission and Member States, the regions and industry need to work together to strengthen industry in Europe.

A strong and competitive industry means strong global players and a strong network of SMEs.

It means a vibrant ecosystem for tech start-ups but equally the modernisation of traditional industries.

It means creating opportunities for the workers and the entrepreneurs.

It means creating opportunities for all regions in Europe.

So let's build together a stronger European industry.



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