As the media attention has somewhat decreased since its release, I would like to share some views on the 22 January European Commission (EC) Communication for a European industrial renaissance. The first point of note is the headline of their press release, as it calls for “immediate action”. Indeed, political decisions have to be taken and Vice-President (VP) Tajani recognises that we are still far from the 2020 20% target of industry’s share in Europe’s GDP. This EC Communication is another attempt to deliver support to industry and VP Tajani is leading the charge for the last time. So with his limited time left in office, the question I asked myself was whether this paper could really make a difference four months before the European elections.
As expected, the Industrial Renaissance Communication underlines the importance of our manufacturing industries. However, there is no reference to the construction industry. Where are the investment recommendations that would deliver the buildings and infrastructures required to support the rest of the economy? Where are the innovative solutions to aid the construction sector? Where are the investments, ergo, regulatory incentives to drive growth?
We may find it comforting to know that “In the future, the Commission will gradually undertake comprehensive reviews of the competitiveness and regulatory frameworks in each of the main industrial value chains, using fitness checks and cumulative cost assessments” but we would like the EC to go further and faster and create an EU policy framework that is coherent, reliable, predictable and stimulating. This means that it must ensure coherence and integration between all European construction policies to foster growth and promote efficiency.
If we turn to the conclusions, the Commission makes the following six recommendations “continue deepening the mainstreaming”, “maximising the potential”, “decisively implementing”, “encourage investments”, “do the utmost” and “calls for the endorsement of … efforts”. We lost the “immediate” early on and in the end we have little demonstrable action. Acknowledging where they believe support is needed is a useful exercise, but without precise support to the key industries it will be hard to reach that ultimate goal of 20% of industries share in Europe’s GDP by 2020. The lack of recognition of construction as a central player of industry means that the sector is therefore left in a compromised position where it is harder to significantly contribute the Commission’s aspirations for European industry.
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