The health crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic has not only exposed the flaws in the industrial fabric of the Member States, pitting the ‘frugal’ countries against the ‘friends of cohesion’, but it has also made the leaders understand the danger of our reliance on non-European countries. Europe must reinvent its own system of production. Although it only has a supporting competence, the EU must define and implement a real European industrial strategy.
On 06 October 2020, Belgian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Olivier Chastel of the Renew Europe Group, raised a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Chastel enquired from the Commission “what strategy does the EU plan to pursue, with a view to building a coherent and truly European industrial policy and to achieving a European strategic autonomy that is not just the sum of 27 independent national industrial policies? In closing, MEP Chastel highlighted that “it should be noted that the alternative to this would be the fracturing of the internal market.”
On 25 November, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, he reported that “on 10 March 2020, the Commission adopted a new industrial strategy for Europe as part of a package of initiatives including a new SME strategy as well as concrete steps to address Single Market barriers and ways to better implement and enforce Single Market rules”. He further clarified that “the new industrial strategy will help Europe’s industry lead the twin green and digital transformation, drive Europe’s global competitiveness and reinforce its industrial and strategic autonomy while continuing to rely on free and fair trade”.
Commissioner Breton explained that “the implementation of the industrial strategy is on track with many measures already presented by the Commission, e.g. the White Paper on foreign subsidies, the action plan on critical raw materials, and the skills agenda”. He added that “the strategy proposes a new type of governance based on industrial alliances, where identified as necessary, and ecosystems, incorporating all players operating in a value chain across the borders”.
Finally, Commissioner Breton declared that “as announced by the President of the Commission in her State of the Union speech in September 2020, the Commission will update the industrial strategy in the first half of 2021, taking into account the current context of accelerated transformation and changing global competitive landscape”.
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