Open Letter to the European Council 23/24 Oct 14

Posted by Orgalime on 21/10/14

President, Hon. Heads of State and Members of the European Council,

Orgalime, the European engineering industries association, whose members’ annual turnover is some 1800 billion euro and which employ over 10 million staff in the EU, is writing to you to urge you to adopt of an integrated European 2030 Energy and Climate Change Framework at the occasion of the European Council meeting on 23/24 October 2014.

Such a decision is urgently needed to encourage investments into innovative areas of cutting edge technologies that will pave the way towards Europe´s future low carbon, energy efficient economy with higher levels of energy independence, greater security of supply and overall sustainability of the energy system.

We believe that a binding EU 40% lead carbon target, coupled with EU-level commitments for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources beyond 2020, will provide a new impetus for sustainable growth and jobs in Europe and will overall boost the competitiveness of EU industry.

We particularly welcome the fact that the Commission has now closed the gap in its initial 2030 Framework proposal with a 30% energy efficiency target*, which we consider as both, feasible and reasonable, provided that the right instruments for implementation are put into place.

Indeed, if Europe wishes to deliver on its carbon target, control energy prices, increase the integration of renewables into its energy system and become world leader in this area, action inevitably needs to go hand in hand with energy efficiency and the development of an integrated energy system, including interconnected infrastructures. Increasing the efficiency of equipment, which is often reaching its technical limits, will not suffice. The challenge is to better exploit the energy savings potentials at system and market level, which requires a future energy retail model that facilitates greater involvement of energy end users and distributed generation in a truly consumer-centric, competitive energy market.

This can only be achieved through instruments, such as the governance process, the Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives rather than through further product regulation under the Ecodesign Directive or its pending review, which risks breaking today´s delicate balance between cost efficiency, environmental improvement, product functionality and affordability.

To conclude, we call upon European regulators to set in place a robust 2030 Energy and Climate Change Framework in support of the EU´s Industrial Policy, and particularly the overall aim to reach a 20% share of
manufacturing output in the EU’s GDP by 2020.

Considering the international dimension of this debate, we encourage the EU to make the necessary efforts to obtain a global and legally binding climate agreement at the UN-FCCC in Paris in 2015. It is essential that other regions of the world show a comparable degree of ambition and take similar action.

Yours faithfully,

Sandro Bonomi

President, Orgalime

* Previously, Orgalime felt that a 40% energy efficiency target should be set considering the 2050 perspective. We consider the suggested
30% as a step in the right direction, which should be supported, while we ask for maintaining a forward looking, proactive attitude.

Posted by Orgalime on 24/04/14

I found this and thought I should share on Blogactiv!

10 Common Blog Writing Mistakes (Infographic)

So why is manufacturing so important in Europe?

Posted by Orgalime on 17/04/14


Maybe the answers to this question and indeed all those posed below can be found at


One market for all?

The European Union is built on the idea of a single European market, allowing free movement of goods, services, persons and capital – directly benefitting every EU citizen, family and company. A properly functioning single market would help European companies become more competitive in today’s fast changing, globalised market. But the EU’s single market is far from complete. Rules vary between member states, with extra requirements often added to EU rules.

How can European policy makers complete the single market across the EU and make it truly one market for all?

A supportive labour market?

European Manufacturing is facing a significantly changed and ever-developing global environment, creating not only major opportunities but also significant competitive pressures. In today’s EU, manufacturing companies face higher international competition than most other sectors. Competitors outside the EU have lower labour costs and much less regulation. If we want to secure and build European employment, we have to maintain and strengthen European manufacturing’s international competiveness with the help of dynamic labour markets.

How can European policy makers create the right local, national and EU-level policies and regulations for a supportive labour market?

Win-win-win environmental laws?

We all accept Europe needs to continue its transition towards a low-carbon, resource efficient and sustainable future. Our industry plays a leading role in this (r)evolution, with the innovative products, systems and technologies we’ve produced through significant, long-term investments. Europe’s environmental laws have to be fairly balanced and stable, producing a win-win-win for not only the environment, but also European manufacturing’s international competitiveness and so European workers and employment.

How can European policy makers ensure win-win-win environmental laws?

Balanced energy policy?

EU energy policy aims to balance environmental goals with international competitiveness, jobs and growth.
But while Europe moves towards its ambitious target of reducing CO2 emissions 20% by 2020, European manufacturers are weighed down by much higher energy costs than our rivals, damaging competitiveness and so European workers and jobs.

How can European policy makers develop a more balanced energy policy?

Smarter R&D?

European manufacturing relies on appropriate, targeted investment in research and development (R&D) to stay competitive in today’s global market. The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme is a positive step, bringing R&D and innovation together under one common initiative for the first time.But, important opportunities still exist to properly focus research on industry’s real needs, simplify the system and better link regional, national and EU-level actions.

How can European policy makers promote smarter R&D?

Modernised Infrastructure?

Modern infrastructure drives industrial competitiveness, economic growth and so job creation and prosperity. Like other industries, European manufacturing needs such infrastructure to help it remain competitive in today’s fast- changing, global market. The EU has recently outlined wide-ranging plans to modernise Europe’s infrastructure by 2020, including energy, transport, e-health and digital interconnectivity. But in realising these plans we face real obstacles like limited financing, public opposition and long, complex permit procedures.

How can European policy makers deliver modernised infrastructure?

Finance that works?

The European Commission’s new industrial policy concentrates on public sector funding and reinforcing access to international capital markets. Welcomed as this is, European manufacturing companies’ day-to-day business mainly rely on bank credit, something which has become progressively more difficult to access and expensive. In parallel, larger organisations, including governments and institutions, are paying invoices late. This particularly affects suppliers, many of which are SMEs.

How can European policy makers help provide finance that works?

Bridging the growing skills gap?

Today’s dynamic, global market is driven by constant and rapid advances in technology. European manufacturing companies face an ever-increasing challenge to have the right people with the right skills in place to best compete and grow. Despite high levels of unemployment, manufacturing companies across Europe still have unfilled vacancies. This skills gap will only widen without strong cooperation between industry and education to produce proper lifelong learning and education and training systems matched to real labour market demand.

How can European policy makers effectively bridge the skills gap?

Manufacturing – only you can make more of it!

Will the European Institutions listen to the messages from EBS13?

Posted by Orgalime on 17/05/13

These are challenging times for Europe and for the manufacturing industry. “Unresolved public and private financial imbalances within the EMU and the subsequent decline in business confidence are now leading to low demand for engineering products in the EU” is how Orgalime reported this ‘impasse’ in November 2012. Indeed, it has been a number of years that we in Orgalime have been warning policy makers that Europe was not on the right track for providing growth and jobs. As the industry which supplies capital goods to all other sectors of the economy, we have seen the signs of low investment in Europe in the internal market. As with all things that come to a head, politicians are at last waking up to what is happening.

We are of course grateful that, at a political level, our message is beginning to be heard and understood. For the first time in Brussels, this is at the highest level, since Commission President Barroso voiced his clear support for our industry when he attended our event in the European Parliament, during our General Assembly, where we launched a joint manifesto ‘Manufacturing a Stronger and Greener Europe’ with our sister organisation, CEEMET. It has been well received and was a timely answer to the Commission’s Communication on re-industrialising Europe.

Obtaining recognition at the political level in Brussels is, however, just a start. It is only just over a year ago that, in a joint letter to Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy, twelve Heads of State and Government suggested that in terms of priority areas for growth in Europe, “action should start in the services sector” with industry being hardly mentioned. Now the Heads of State have, for the first time, decided to hold two specific debates on industrial policy and industrial competitiveness in June this year and in February 2014.

And then will come the hard part: implementing those reforms which are needed to make Europe a more attractive place for manufacturing investment. Our manifesto gives clear indications of what needs to be done. It will however be rather difficult for many governments and indeed for the European institutions as a whole to move away from business as usual – printing regulation, much of it ill-conceived and punishing for industry. This has become a habit and only now are regulators beginning to understand the cumulative impact that this is having on manufacturing and therefore the wider economy. This is rather late given the horrendous reality of unemployment in much of Europe and particularly youth unemployment: in several EU member states 30-40% of school and university leavers who are unemployed and in a few other countries this is even higher. Other countries of course are in better economic health.

If we are pragmatic, we cannot expect that the European taxpayer is going to provide extensive funding whether at national or European level to boost the European economy. We have been hoping to a see a shift of spending towards more investment in innovation, in modern technological infrastructures all of which would provide a boost to jobs, but old habits – die hard: the agricultural sector although it employs relatively few people today is still considered as the strategic sector by a number of governments. Therefore more efforts will have to be made to ‘re-industrialise’ Europe through other avenues and this means creating the right framework conditions which will incite manufacturing investment in the EU and allow companies to grow, generate a profit and employ more staff.

Extracts from our manifesto explain what we are seeking:

• The cost of doing business needs to be reduced

• Investment and operating conditions in Europe need to be improved

• A supportive framework is needed to keep a full industrial supply chain

• High-tech infrastructure modernisation must be fostered , thus facilitating the early adoption of new technologies in Europe by implementing a policy framework which promotes competition, investment and innovation in these markets

• Regulation must really aim to ensure the right framework for more growth, jobs and investment: policies must be goal-oriented without prescribing technologies; the impact of new regulation on companies and the cumulative impact of regulation must be thoroughly assessed in advance; regulation must be more stable and predictable and also reflect investment cycles; ex-post evaluation of implemented legislation must be the standard

• There must be better market surveillance, adopted regulation must be respected – not only that: policy adopted must be followed

• A more welcoming attitude towards manufacturing investment

Maybe, just maybe, we should all pull together in order to market ourselves better – it appears that our image is sometimes portrayed in some quarters, in a rather outdated manner. After all whilst our technologies are there to solve tomorrow’s problems (as well as those of today!), we are proving that we can indeed combine the jobs and prosperity required by our citizens whilst still respecting the environmental and ecological needs that our fragile planet demands of us. The engineering industries in Europe in particular, have probably contributed more to ‘greening’ the planet than we are given due credit for.

A last word on this to underline what we mean: a CEO from our industry recently commented that when he was looking at where to site a new production facility in Asia, an ambassador from one of the countries he was considering travelled up to his company offices here in the EU to discuss with him what the country’s government could propose to attract the investment there. When first considering the alternative – investing at home, the welcome given to him by the local authorities had first and foremost included the list of regulations and restrictions to respect and permits to be obtained. There are no prizes for guessing where the investment was made. We will not stop companies from investing close to their markets abroad – clients often expect it – but we must never forget that Europe is the first market in the world and that our industry’s success is based on this and on our exports.

“Green single market for green growth”: neither good for consumers nor for manufacturers

Having reviewed the Draft Commission Recommendation on the use of Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) methods, both Orgalime and ANEC are extremely disappointed that, notwithstanding their joint opposition to the draft proposal, the Commission should once again have opted for yet more big brother ‘voluntary’ regulation.

Orgalime sees this proposal as representing an unreliable tool for creating demand for better and greener products in the EU, while it risks exposing companies to unfair competition and to market distortion as consumers would base their buying decisions on misleading information.

ANEC too has been a persistent critic of the value of environmental footprint information, whether from a methodological perspective, or the perspective of consumer understanding, and maintains that information to consumers based on the LCA approach – at the centre of PEF/OEF methodologies – should be rejected and neither supported nor promoted by the European Commission or member states.

Although principles such as clarity, credibility and reliability, identified in the Commission Communication, are values shared by consumer organisations and the engineering industry, the proposed methodologies cannot serve to apply these principles. Information to consumers should be based on robust, measurable and verifiable indicators, elaborated product group by product group, in collaboration with stakeholders.

ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, commented: “Environmental Product Declarations are useless for consumers as they do not allow for the reliable identification of environmentally-superior products. They are based on questionable methods and lack meaningful benchmarks and rating scales. Real world cases of LCA studies – such as nappies and packaging – have already shown that the results of an environmental assessment based on LCA depend on subjective choices. Moreover, statistical uncertainties inherent in the data are likely to make the identification of superior products almost impossible anyway”.

Concluded Adrian Harris, Orgalime’s Director General: “It never ceases to astound me how the institutions can one day adopt proposals aimed at enticing manufacturing industry to invest in Europe and to contribute to much needed re-industrialisation, and the next come up with yet more bureaucratic proposals, which will be prohibitively heavy to apply for our small companies and no doubt achieve the opposite result. It really is time to snap out of this business as usual mode”.

Methodology for the calculation of the environmental footprint of products, services and organisations with a view to assess, display and benchmark their environmental performance based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach

European manufacturing offers way out of austerity – ‘Manufacturing a Stronger and Greener Europe’

Posted by Orgalime on 03/12/12

Orgalime and CEEMET have responded to the Commission’s recent Communication ‘A stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ with their joint manifesto ‘Manufacturing a Stronger and Greener Europe’, which was presented to the European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso at an event attended by industry, MEPs and EU officials (28 Nov 12). The manifesto contents could actually provide the necessary impetus to restore faith in the European project.

“The European Commission recently sent a clear message stressing that industry is vital to the economic recovery and that the industrial output must grow to reach 20% of GDP. Our manufacturing sectors are critical to the European economy, employing 13 million people. We have listed in our joint policy manifesto a number of core issues for our industry, where we believe improvements will indeed help to ensure a stronger and greener manufacturing economy in Europe”, comment CEEMET and Orgalime Director Generals Uwe Combüchen and Adrian Harris.

Yes, Mr. Barroso, look at the ‘state of the Union’!

Posted by Orgalime on 13/09/12

We fully agree with you that new thinking is needed. We cannot go on with business as usual.

Thank you for your words today on how successful Europe’s engineering industry is in a globalised world. Indeed, our industry which employs over 10 million people in Europe is a world leader. Why? Because our companies are dynamic and focused: they thrive on innovation developed with capable staff who invest their knowledge into developing the new products which give their companies their fine competitive edge. This is the fruit of hard work and in the past has been much helped by a supportive framework – the internal market – which allowed our companies to grow in Europe.

The British Olympians had 17 days of sporting triumph at the recent London 2012 game; however that triumph was a decade in the making. Success was instilled through foresight and through hard work together across the board to make the Olympics a success for each and every athlete.

We should be approaching the European economy in the same light: we need to have a policy framework which again makes Europe a place which attracts investment and thereby creates jobs, not, as we have been seeing in the last years, a string of disjointed policies which just add to the complexity, the uncertainty and the cost of “made in Europe”. And it is the Commission which can and should be the driver behind this framework.

So, please go beyond the rhetoric and get down to having the Commission as a whole work together to remove the barriers that are currently deterring companies from investing in Europe and stopping them what has been at the root of their global success and Europe’s economic development – making in Europe products and technologies which our customers need and want both in Europe & worldwide.

We agree with you Mr. Barroso that not everything can be a priority at the same time: surely today, getting people back to work must be the priority for Europe. And our industry has proven that we do deliver jobs and growth under the right conditions. The opportunity is there: the Commission’s industrial policy review must change the course of policy and steer the European ship as a whole in the right direction. It must seek to deliver for Europe’s manufacturing base.

What do we need fundamentally? An attractive investment framework in the EU: staff with the skills our companies need, better access to finance both on the capital markets and with banks, input costs which are globally competitive, modern infrastructures, an internal market which is fully operational, better trading conditions and also regulatory and policy stability and predictability.

In his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Barroso asked if Europe was really capable of achieving growth and creating jobs. As an industry we know that our companies can make it and we believe we can do it in Europe, but not with the policies and regulation that Europe is delivering today. Let’s hope that in 2013, the final year of this Commission we will have seen some real change for the better.

‘The Smart World’ – Electra II Report Solutions proposed by Europe’s electrical engineering industries

Posted by Orgalime on 18/04/12

On the 24th April in Hannover, the follow-up to the Electra report – launched in June 2008 – will presented to Commission Vice-President Tajani.

In ‘The Smart World’, the electrical engineering and electronics industry represented through Electra aims to

a) briefly analyse the results of the first Electra report, looking at those areas where progress has been achieved and at those where more needs to be done
b) outline the changes that have arisen following the 2008-2009 economic crash
c) re-examine the challenges at societal level that Europe faces today.

For more information and a free ticket to the Hannover Fair on 24th April, register and attend the Electra launch!

Orgalime – The European engineering industries economic outlook 2012 – in ‘wordle’ form!

Posted by Orgalime on 13/04/12

Wordle: Orgalime Economic Outlook 2012

Changing the name of engineering in Europe – once ‘good’, then ‘better’, now ‘smart’!

Posted by Orgalime on 23/02/12
Tags: , , ,  

By Richard Dick – President of Orgalime, the European engineering industries association

Can we please stop considering industry as a ‘dirty’ word?  For too long now, industry (and in particular the European engineering industry) has not been given credit where credit’s due.  Orgalime, the European engineering industries association indirectly represents (through our national associations) some 130 000 companies – 95% of which are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that employ over 10 million European citizens; those citizens are people like you and me – working to provide a stable home for our families, working to create a better environment for our planet.  And the jobs they are in are providing the technological solutions to the societal demands that our larger and aging population are crying out for.  The European Commission’s policy ‘labelling’ reads like something from a school report – ‘good’, ‘better’ and now ‘smart’.  Now Europe is into forging smart cities, smart grids, smart meters – the list is endless.  And the greater emphasis on efficiency of resources and energy consumption should not come as a surprise to a world where ‘consumerism’ has almost become to be considered an illness.

Engineers have arguably been smart for centuries, so why is it taking politicians so long to catch up?   Will Europe’s lead in greening its economy mean that the technologies to do so will be developed and produced here or will we just import them?  Let us first remind ourselves of our roots – after all, the industrial revolution did have its beginnings on European soil.  This birthplace, once described as “the most extraordinary district in the world”, is still a remarkable, and beautiful, place to visit today.  At the Ironbridge Gorge, near Telford in the United Kingdom, a huge amount of early industry still survives as furnaces, factories, workshops, canals and the settlements of Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, Jackfield and Coalport live on.

But this was at a time when coal supplies appeared to be endless and certainly the impact of ‘industry’ on the world we live in hadn’t even been thought of, let alone understood.  It can be argued that the industrial revolution has never ceased – over the 3 centuries that have passed since Abraham Darby founded the Coalbrookdale iron foundry in 1709, is it not that the evolution of industry has become the cornerstone of economic wealth and growth.  Nevertheless, it seems that history seems to have taken all of this for granted.  Those early engineers didn’t have government grants and subsidies to achieve their pioneering work – it was pure curiosity and persistence that prevailed, with the realisation that somehow their efforts would ‘make a difference’.

European industry can and should aspire to maintaining a leading role in the world economy.  However, in order to do so, it must be able to compete on an equal footing with other regions of the world.  This is becoming all the more important at a time when we see a surge of growth shifting rapidly to other regions, such as Asia, while Europe still struggles as it tries to emerge from the economic crisis.  Our industry is doing well in export markets.  This is heartening because it means we are successfully competing on the international scene, and we need this to continue.  However, for our producers of capital goods, it is equally important for the long term that our customers invest here in Europe.  This will be a sign that the industrial policy agenda launched by the European Commission really is bearing fruit and helping to lay the foundations for better longer term structural growth.  Hence our motto: ‘Manufacturing Matters’.  Turning Europe once again into one of the more dynamic economic zones is a goal worth fighting for and it is a goal which we must achieve.

In a global marketplace when the ‘sun never sets’, Europe has to turn its fortunes around.  Why have we ended up in such a situation?  Complacency springs to mind – when things are going well, politicians have the habit of turning on the benefits tap while swishing the knife in areas identified where short term vote winning decisions can be made.  These inevitably have disastrous long-term consequences and are difficult to fix.  Europe has dangerously tussled with the fact that we are the best in everything, when in reality, the rest of the world has caught us up (and in some cases, overtaken us), creating ‘unwelcome’ competition in the manufacturing sector.  But there is still a glimmer of hope – Europe is good at innovating.  But that costs money and when the financial climate is as delicate as it has been, investing in research & development to produce the innovation that Europe so desperately needs is sometimes less attractive because Europe itself, as the mountains of regulation many of which are unfriendly towards industry, is for many becoming an increasingly unattractive place to invest in. Why is this so?

First manufacturing naturally sites itself where there is a market:  opportunities in Europe must outweigh the constraints created by Europe for our industries.  We believe that political decision makers have a crucial role to play in designing measures that help to stimulate market uptake, for example of energy efficient and greener technologies, thereby effectively creating success stories here in Europe which will underpin our export markets.  This is why we are convinced that the institutions’ drive to get national governments to support investment in energy efficiency is a step in the right direction.  The message is simple: innovate, use and produce in Europe. But are governments listening? No on the contrary they are resisting moves in this direction.

And what about the other rules? With the development of the internal market – a major EU success story – came a considerable body of European technical legislation on products.  A few core directives, such as the Low Voltage, Machinery and Electromagnetic Compatibility Directives, and occupational safety directives have both regulated the health and safety aspects of engineering products and their free circulation in an ever larger internal home market.  In recent years, however, the EU has enacted a substantial body of legislation in areas such as the environment, employment and social affairs, consumer legislation, etc… while at the same time continuing to develop or review internal market legislation.  This has led to a highly complex and continuously changing regulatory framework.  If such regulatory measures, taken individually, may often seem justified, the resulting body of regulation has become too unwieldy for manufacturers and in particular the smaller companies to manage.  To make matters worse, national, regional and even local authorities add further requirements.  This is affecting the competitiveness of Europe as a manufacturing base.  What needs to be done to recreate the dynamism which is so essential?

In particular, the European electrical engineering industry that mercifully has its home base in Europe, makes the technologies that are needed to create a living environment more conducive to the quality of life of a maturing society faced with many challenges.  It is these industries that provide the technologies needed to achieve the political goals of becoming more energy and resource-efficient and set up the best energy infrastructure possible.  It is these industries that bring together all the energy efficiency technologies around a ‘smart home’ or a ‘smart building (e.g. by combining intelligent household and consumer electronics with the building infrastructure and energy system). It is these industries that create the road and transportation technologies to generate an intelligent traffic and mobility (e.g. by combining the best features of the different transportation modes such as road, air and train traffic with local urban public transportation and electro mobility concepts).  Thinking in terms of, and believing in, systems and network technologies with the aim of finding the best technical solution to a particular demand or societal challenge is what Orgalime and its members want.

In 2008, after two years of collaboration between the European Commission led by Commission Vice President Günther Verheugen and Europe’s electrical engineering industry led by Edward Krubasik, the then Orgalime President, the Electra report “Twenty solutions for growth and investment to 2020 and beyond” was issued.

Now, in 2012 a stocktaking exercise has been conducted in the form of the Electra 2, which will be launched at the Hanover Trade Fair in April 2012.  The industry represented through Electra aims to:

  • Briefly analyse the results of the first Electra report
  • Outline the changes that have arisen following the 2008-2009 economic crash as well as the impact of this on Europe’s electrical and electronics industry
  • Re-examine the challenges that Europe faces today and present proposals to support European policies in its energy- and resource-efficient growth-and jobs-agenda and outline the steps that need to be taken to make Europe a ‘smart world’.

While innovation will be at the core of the success of our companies, one of the essential elements to ensure that this translates into jobs and growth in the EU will still remain the total cost of production. For this a number of issues remain of the utmost importance:

Think manufacturing technologies…

First and foremost Europe must continue to focus on manufacturing technologies – an area where we lead the world and where we must continue to excel if we are to maintain long term manufacturing competitiveness. This requires that our industry operates in a global framework which is supportive.

Think supply chain…

As a result of the development of regulation, we are increasingly faced with what the institutions euphemistically term as “production leakage”, that is part of our industrial infrastructure is either moving out of the EU or developing new capacity in less regulated areas of the globe or areas with better market prospects: where part of our industry’s own supply chain or customer base migrates to other areas of the world, we are increasingly finding that our own competitiveness is being undermined if our companies do not develop capacity in those areas.  Therefore, when carrying out impact assessments on new policy and regulatory initiatives, a much closer analysis of the supply chain effects should be undertaken.  For example in Europe we are world leaders in the area of production and automobile automation systems.  Our manufacturing base for these productions is largely in the EU: however, if our client base migrates to other areas of the world, we will inevitably have to relocate our R&D and our production close to the sites of our clients.

On the supply side before the downturn in the economy, our industry was becoming increasingly concerned about raw materials availability at competitive conditions: while non-ferrous metals tend to be quoted on exchanges, this is less the case in the area of steel where we have seen a number of tendencies:

  • The steel mills which are increasingly large global companies are moving further and further downstream into the territory until now occupied by metalworking SMEs.
  • Steel companies are also tending to put pressure on the institutions to limit competition from imported steel, essentially through the use of the anti-dumping instrument.  Two recent cases which were strongly resisted by our industry due to the gap between EU and foreign steel prices (hot-dip galvanised and stainless steel sheet) were withdrawn, but the steel giants are still promoting protectionist policies which will inevitably undermine the capacity of engineering SMEs to produce in the EU many products in the face of competition from imports produced in countries where steel prices are lower.

Think energy costs…

Just as important for our industry is the availability of energy at conditions which are competitive compared to those found in other major manufacturing countries.  Electrical energy in particular, even with increased energy efficiency, is likely to play a growing role in our energy mix and will serve as the basis for the development of areas of technology, such as the electric car.  For these technologies to develop in optimal conditions, it is important to maintain competitive energy prices at a time when the electrical utilities will also be required to invest to improve their efficiency and carbon footprint. Therefore a number of issues are essential in this context, such as:

  • Providing a stable, predictable and appropriate legislative framework that mobilises market forces and competition to drive innovation.
  • Setting overall energy efficiency targets for each member state, independent of the given energy mix and enforcing the development of a binding roadmap in term of power plants, power transmission and distribution (new and retrofits) based on an exhaustive inventory of the current environment and a clear target for each country.
  • Proposing proper incentives for utilities to invest in efficient technologies.
  • Encourage the adaptation of the architecture of the Transport & Distribution grids, removing barriers from regional planning and simplify permitting processes.

Think staff…

The engineering industry is a vast industry employing over ten million workers in Europe.  In an industry which by its nature is already cyclical and which sees its production cycles changing very fast, it is essential that regulators recognise that, in addition to full-time and permanent work, there is an increasing demand for a diversity of working arrangements, including part-time, fixed-term and temporary agency work, from both employers and employees.

Flexible labour markets allowing the speedy and efficient deployment of labour are therefore vital if European companies are to respond efficiently to the increasing pressures of global competition.  Linked to the need for flexible labour markets are the demographic problems that Europe – particularly the 15 “old” member states – will face in the years ahead.  Many European countries already suffer from skills and labour shortfalls which will be exacerbated, as Europe’s population grows older.  We therefore support the free movement of workers in the enlarged European Union without any restrictions and also welcome the “blue card” as a temporary measure to alleviate pressure in the demand for skilled personnel.

Companies and their employees will also need to become more open to the idea of working later in life. Governments should re-consider existing provisions which encourage early exits from the labour market and replace them by ones that promote active ageing policies including, for example, flexible retirement arrangements.

Social policies are therefore a vital part of the framework in which companies operate.  Our industry is therefore convinced that, in the field of social policy, more adaptability will contribute to improved competitiveness.  In our view, all existing and forthcoming social policy regulations at European and national level should always be checked against the principle of subsidiarity.

So to conclude, I am a strong believer in the future of manufacturing in Europe: we have the capacity to innovate and when the conditions are right, our companies will invest here; I know this from my personal experience where my own company has won back work which our customers had placed in India.  So there is no inevitability that Europe should become a manufacturing desert.  On the contrary, so long as our politicians and regulators understand that we are the key to getting Europe out of its austerity mood; we are the key to providing our young with a bright future here in our countries.

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