Towards a green, globally competitive and digital European industry

Submitted by Political Commission 2: Internal European Affairs

Adopted by the online Federal Committee on 26 June 2021. Re-adopted and amended by the Federal Committee on 11 November 2023 in Madrid, Spain. 

Europe’s industries have been under increasing pressure over the last years due to economic shocks, a slow adoption of digitalisation, an increasingly multipolar world shaped by geopolitical challenges, as well as poor coordination of economic activities through the national governments As the backbone of european prosperity and stability it is vital to create an ecosystem that allows and supports industry to adapt to an increasingly disruptive environment. As one of the largest economies the EU holds responsibility as a key driver of global economic equality as well as the transition to a sustainable future. Europe’s industry has to remain competitive on the global market and realise Europe’s strategic autonomy and at the same time become fit for the 21st century. This transformation process will determine the future of European citizens in the way they live and work and offers the opportunity to create an ever closer Union, that plays on its strengths. JEF Europe, therefore, proposes a common vision for this transition where it is crucial to work together, from the local to European level, to respond to new industrial challenges.

 

JEF Europe,

  • Underlining that industry is our economic and social backbone and essential for sustainable long-term progress and welfare, from energy and mobility, to security and defence industry on to the industrial manufacturing of products facilitating the twin green and digital transition
  • Recalling that European industry provide 35 million jobs, account for 80% of goods exports, 24% of GDP and are key drivers for the EU’s position as a top global provider of high-tech products;
  • Highlighting the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often acting as key local suppliers;
  • Welcoming the EU Commission update of the 2020 Industrial Strategy: Building a stronger Single Market for Europe’s recovery (05.05.2021), where digitalisation, sustainability and the circular economy are at the heart of the industrial transformation;
  • Commending the European Union Climate Law adopted in 2023, which sets legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as well as intermediate targets to be reached by 2030;
  • Recognizing the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) adopted in 2022, which widens the scope of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and requires companies to disclose information on environmental, social and governance sustainability according to the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS);
  • Acknowledging that industrial activities are also a strong driver of environmental pollution and carbon emissions;
  • Deeply convinced that Europe’s industry can and should be transformed to meet the Paris Agreement, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), binding emissions targets and the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 set in the EU climate law, and initiatives such as the European Green Deal;
  • Emphasising the need to ensure workers’ and citizens’ health, safety and well-being in European industry;
  • Acknowledging that the EU’s industrial and economic power translates into normative power, and that all these powers can be used to contribute to global development, as well as promote human rights and environmental justice in the world through smart trade agreements;
  • Applauding the EU Commission’s announcement to propose a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and to expand the scope of the Emission Trading system (ETS), as well as encouraging the European Commission to propose a due diligence regulation for our supply chains (beyond industry), ensuring that products traded and imported to the EU are respecting human rights and environmental standards, to mitigate exploitation of workers, children and the environment in third countries and allows consumers in the EU to consume goods that respect the above mentioned standards;
  • Recognizing that value chains are increasingly global and complex, leading to interdependence, reduced resilience of the European economy against external shocks – as seen during the coronavirus pandemic or Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – and to distorted markets, where it is difficult to enforce fair trading practices;
  • Deeply concerned about the potential misuse of industrial policy as a weapon by revisionist autocracies, through restrictions on the export of critical raw materials, energy sources or other key technologies or services;
  • Welcoming the European Commission’s declaration to enhance the bloc’s strategic autonomy in six key areas (“Important Projects of Common European Interest” or IPCEI), such as microelectronics, hydrogen, and batteries, for an expected total of EUR 80 billion of public and private investment [1];
  • Welcoming the European Commission’s new concept of open strategic autonomy, as well as efforts deployed with the “in-depth review of strategic areas for Europe’s interests” to analyse dependencies in our supply chains in order to reduce them [2];
  • Noting that other world actors are also derisking their supply chains, such as the USA with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and that there is thus a high risk of an expensive subsidy race to attract companies, which would be negative for taxpayers as well as consumers, and that thus more coordination is necessary between the EU and our friends and allies;
  • Also noting with concern that increasing globalisation and delocalization contributed to a loss of jobs and to diminishing the status and identity of industrial workers, whilst a growing part of youth are working under new employment models, such as zero-hour contracts that often lead to precarity;
  • Emphasising that Europe’s future industry depends on sufficient investment in new innovations, technology, Research and Development (R&D) as well as skill training, which should be a joint European endeavour to boost competitiveness, specialisation and sustainability;
  • Recognising that in high-tech fields in particular, much innovation is done by large companies, and thus it may be necessary to accept more mergers between European companies to create European champions in key industries;
  • Reminding that industry is heavily dependent on the supply of key inputs and conditions, such as energy, raw materials, technical equipment, and infrastructure, and that it is the mission of the EU and Member States, as well as subnational governance levels, to provide these inputs;
  • Reaffirming JEF Europe’s resolutions that are interconnected, complement the need for an industrial transition and propose concrete solutions: “A European Transition to a Circular Economy”, “Calling for an ethical and efficient EU policy framework on Artificial Intelligence”, “For a United Digital Europe”, “Environment does not stop at borders: Towards a Sustainable Europe and a Sustainable Global Climate Policy”, “Better integrated and more sustainable mobility infrastructure for an Ever Closer Union”, “A federal strategy for sustainable, safe and healthy food for all Europeans”; “Advancing the European Union’s Social Dimension”, “EU Foreign Policy towards Russia”, and “Towards sustainable, reliable and affordable energy for Europe”;

 

JEF Europe therefore:

  1. Calls on European industries to take concrete steps to become more coordinated, resilient, environmentally sustainable and globally competitive by 2030;
  2. Envisions a green industrial revolution of the global economy, taking advantage of green technologies and advanced manufacturing methods (often referred to as Industry 4.0.) that also contribute to safeguarding access to critical infrastructures for all Europeans;
  3. Calls for the European Commission and Member States to guarantee fair competition inside the EU to complete the Single Market through the elimination of remaining trade barriers and the enforcement of EU competition law, having regard to ensuring a level playing field on the global market;
  4. Proposes to seize the momentum of the agreement to create a global minimum corporate tax rate to strike similar deals with allies and friends of the EU to better coordinate and avoid expensive subsidy races in areas where it is desirable to diversify our supply or reduce our strategic dependency, such as, but not limited to, battery technology, microchips, critical raw materials, and energy sources;
  5. Supports a European relocalisation of vital industrial activities to provide for more of Europe’s own consumption, ensuring shorter and more resilient supply chains and creating long-term, well-paid jobs for European workers;
  6. Encourages the EU and European industries to take concrete steps that lead to a Decarbonised Energy Union and to serve as the engine of the Green Deal and for the transformation of resource- and energy intensive industries towards a zero-emission industry, while ensuring accessibility and affordability of new sustainable energy sources;
  7. Calls on the EU, Member States and industries for a more decisive move towards a circular economy through the implementation of a cascading use and cradle-to-cradle principles in our production chains, waste management and through a life-cycle assessment of critical components and raw materials;
  8. Commends the European Commission’s proposal for common rules promoting the repair of goods, adopted in March 2023, as an important first step, but also reminds that much more needs to be done to fight built-in obsolescence and other practices encouraging consumption to the detriment of continued use and repair[3];
  9. Urges the European Commission to prepare concrete steps and strategies to reduce the use of critical metals, batteries and plastic, where alternatives exist, and to enhance recycling of them (i.e., chemical degradation; substitution by circular materials);
  10. Calls upon the European Commission to propose a legislative framework that would regulate and minimize the industrial exploitation of natural resources in light of environmental preservation, following the “Do-no- harm-principle”, to protect the rights of the local communities and indigenous peoples within and outside the EU as well as to ensure their participation in the production and decision-making processes;
  11. Calls upon the EU and Member States to develop on their territories critical raw material extraction that is safe, as well as socially and environmentally responsible, to boost our own production and reduce our need for imports as well as our dependencies;
  12. Expects the EU’s and Member States’ industrial strategies to support the fight against in-work poverty, poverty and inequality, as well as to ensure strong and equitable workers’ rights with equal access and opportunities guaranteed for, but not limited to, women, minority workers, and young people;
  13. Demands the EU to consequently implement the targets set out in the European Skills Agenda, especially by providing targeted training to workers from declining sectors and to ensure new opportunities and jobs within good working conditions[4];
  14. Calls for EU funds aimed at industrial transition, such as the Just Transition Fund, to become real funds of solidarity, that ensure fair distribution across society, between regions and countries, underlining the importance of European territorial cohesion;
  15. Further encourages the EU and the Member States to support already existing and emerging networks of SMEs across Europe, to share their knowledge and best practices regarding sustainable digitalization;
  16. Demands, especially, the European and national recovery funds to support this industrial transition and to ensure that the transition from fossil and other polluting industries to renewable, future-oriented industries is accelerated;
  17. Encourages the EU and Member States to support startups, SMEs as well as larger companies in their potential to grow and to compete on global markets and to become global champions 

 

[1]

Approved Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), European

Commission website, consulted on 27.10.2023, on link

[2]

Second in-depth review of strategic areas for Europe’s interests, European

Commission website, consulted on 27.10.2023, on link

[3]

Rules promoting the repair of goods, European Commission website, consulted

on 27.10.2023, on link

[4]

European Skills Agenda, European Commission website, consulted on

27.10.2023, on link