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Christophe Grudler: "Working on industrial issues also means protecting Europe's strategic interests"!

European Industry

Action must be taken to help European industry transform itself into an even more competitive, digital and climate-friendly driver of the European economy, ensuring the prosperity of the Union’s citizens. After Thursday’s adoption in plenary of a parliamentary initiative report on a long-term strategy for Europe’s industrial future, European Democrats MEPs urge the European Commission to include two parts of future actions in the revised Industrial Strategy that will be presented in March next year: immediate recovery from the economic slump caused by the covid-19 crisis and, subsequently, a long-term digital and green transformation. 

French MEP Christophe Grudler, Renew Europe shadow rapporteur for the initiative report,  explains what this report is all about:

What is the importance of this report?

With this report, the European Parliament sends a clear message: European citizens want the EU to do more to support its industry and its jobs. The COVID-19 crisis has shown to us that we need to give the EU the financial and regulatory means to withstand economic shocks. The upcoming revised Industrial Strategy must be centered around resilience, innovation and renewed leadership. I believe the European industry has immense potential to carry out a successful green and digital transition. But for this to be possible, we need to be more ambitious about research and innovation, develop strategic autonomy and support our small, medium and big businesses as the strength of our economy lies in them

The report on European industrial strategy has been adopted by the European Parliament. Is this a signal that the European institutions are paying more attention to industrial issues?

The adoption of this report is a very good signal, especially in the current context of health and economic crisis. Our industries must embark on an in-depth transition to respond to this new reality. This can only be done through the establishment of an appropriate regulatory framework and adequate support from public authorities to sustain industrial jobs.

So yes, I think that the European institutions are fully aware of the importance of the industrial sector, particularly since the appointment of the new Commission in 2019 and European Commissioner Thierry Breton.

Above all, the EU is becoming aware that working on industrial issues also means protecting Europe's strategic interests. For example, by being autonomous on certain essential products such as those related to health, space or digital technologies, or by securing our energy independence.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are particularly important in Europe. What is their importance in this report?

SMEs, often referred to as the "backbone of the EU", account for 99% of European businesses. This is why we are well aware that a single solution will not work given the diversity of European industry. I have therefore been particularly invested during my work on this report to give them a very important place, with targeted solutions.

Above all, the industrial strategy must make it easier for SMEs to do business. It is therefore a question of reducing the bureaucratic burden, facilitating their access to funding, whether public or private. Many of these companies operate with 1 or 2 employees, so they do not have the resources to manage these administrative obligations and ensure the development of their activities at the same time. Our aim is to enable them to focus on developing quality products and services.

The measures contained in this report should also give them the keys to become the drivers of the digital and ecological transition. Research and innovation play a central role in this. This will enable our SMEs to be proactive and to position themselves as leaders in facing international competition.

What are the main challenges and opportunities facing our European industries today?

I can see several of them, which I think are dealt with very pertinently in the report that we are going to adopt.

First of all, the challenge of ecological transition. Industry will obviously have a key role to play in meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal. Achieving our environmental objectives requires multiple actions: implementing production cycles based on the circular economy, improving the energy efficiency of our production processes, or developing renewable energies.

Then there is the challenge of the digital transition in industry. This is a turning point that we must not miss if we want to be able to face up to international competition. From the smallest SME to the large industrial group, we must extend the use of digital tools and data, because this will facilitate the different processes.

Responding to these challenges can only be achieved through enhanced cooperation between actors along the value chain. This is what we are doing, for example, through the creation of European alliances, for example on batteries or hydrogen. These will make it possible to structure new industrial sectors and to achieve the creation of real European champions, we need them!