Uwe Combüchen is director general of CEEMET. He was interviewed by EurActiv’s Jeremy Fleming.
Why have you published the joint manifesto?
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. We had been discussing the conditions needed in the current challenging time to get the manufacturing sectors back on track or keep them on the right path - what would be needed to ensure growth and jobs in the sectors? - and we decided to jointly respond to the Commission’s recent communications such as “A stronger European industry for growth and recovery”.
Why is the metal industry significant for industrial development?
The metal, engineering and technology based industries are critical to the European economy, directly employing upwards of 13 million people. Our voice needs to be heard on what European industry needs from the EU. 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.
Are you concerned about the current state of the negotiations on the MFF, in relation to Horizon 2020?
As we have understood, within the future EU budget, the aim is to ensure that “spending should be mobilised to support growth, employment, competitiveness and convergence” and we do think that better focusing of the scarce resources better is always positive.
As national governments are cutting budgets, it is normal that the EU will need to do so too. The cuts should be done in inefficient areas and where no real added value has been reached. Spending should however absolutely not be cut in some key areas such as innovation, research and development. Rather, the budget should be increased there to keep Europe in the frontline of industrial development and to ensure growth and creation of new jobs.
What is your opinion on the recent review of Europe's industrial strategy?
We are of course very supportive of the Commission’s renewed focus on industry. The four pillars that the communication focuses on are crucial (investment in innovation, better market conditions, access to finance and capitals, human capital and skills). Now we have to make sure the right measures are taken to ensure the implementation of the pillars. This is not something the Commission can do alone – we have to work together on ensuring the best conditions for industry in Europe.
How are you intending to make your manifesto message heard?
The Manifesto has also been sent to hundreds of stakeholders in Brussels and in national capitals. We plan to keep the priority topics on the agenda in the future in all times when we contact and discuss with our stakeholders as well.
By joining the forces with Orgalime we wanted to make sure the topics get more weight since they are so important to both organisations, and need urgent action, such as ensuring competitive labour markets in Europe and making national social security systems future proof (reforms are surely needed as well as with the pension systems) and responding to the skills shortage in the EU manufacturing industry so better matching of skills and labour market needs.