The European Commission for Industry and Entrepreneurship wants to raise industrial activity in Europe from presently 16% to 20% of gross domestic product in 2020.
Mr Antonio Tajani commissioner of EUROFER said that “We’ve made mistakes in the past. We pushed industry and enterprise into a corner.”
The commissioner is also paying particular attention to the European steel industry and has initiated a High Level Roundtable to discuss the challenges for the sector. Participants are executive board members and CEOs of EUROFER member companies, led by EUROFER President Dr Wolfgang Eder, as well as Members of the European Parliament and representatives of trade unions. In a first meeting on September 19th 2012, in which Mr Tajani was accompanied by Mr László Andor, commissioner for Employment, the Roundtable identified eleven key challenges for the steel industry.
These include international competition (with an emphasis on protectionism and unfair trade practices), access to raw materials as well as extra costs due to legislation and implementation of EU climate policy.
Also of major importance are the EU climate policy objectives beyond 2020, energy costs, EU resource efficiency policy, skills shortages and possible adaptations of capacities. R&D and innovation as well as demand side measures stimulating recovery in key sectors complete the list of priorities.
The EUROFER members also pointed out that a number of problems the European steel industry has to deal with at present are not based in the current crisis but in current policy making.
High energy costs for example, or the huge climate policy costs as well the constant pressure to increase climate targets without the technology to do so are massive competitive disadvantages the industry has to face simply by operating in Europe. The same is true for inflexibility and high cost of labor. Serious risks for the industry are also created by proposals for climate policy 40 years in advance.
Addressing these issues, the EUROFER members emphasized, in combination with restoring demand, would not only support the European steel industry in the current economic crisis but also significantly increase its long term sustainability.