Although the EU appears to be heading towards a services economy, the economic crisis has made drawing up an industrial policy more relevant than ever, industry bosses told the Europe Forum on 17 April.
''There is no prosperous economy without industry. Even if this is obvious, it has not always been the case,'' said Franck Huiban, advisor to the CEO of European aeronautic, defence and space company EADS.
According to Huiban, the economic crisis was a brutal wake-up call for Europe, which was turning towards a service-based economy.
Today, the EU represents 15% of global industrial output, compared with 20% in 2000. In France, industry represents only 16% of GDP – like in the UK – compared to 22% in 2000. In Germany, industry is more resistant and still represents 30% of value added. But these figures are nothing like those in emerging countries, which together produce 52% of the world's industrial output.
In the late 1990s, the EU thought it should move its industrial production out of Europe, keeping only research and development (R&D) and marketing. It now seems, at least in theory, that the EU has changed its vision.
The 'Europe 2020' strategy, currently in its preparatory phase, may contain a section on industrial policy (see 'Background'). Yet doubts persist over the suitability of the strategy, which aims to boost growth instead of creating the conditions for growth.
''[The] Lisbon [Strategy] is dead. But we are making the Europe 2020 strategy with the same approach. I promise you, in 10 years we will be there saying that it didn't work again,'' said Rolf Kroker, director of German think-tank Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft, based in Cologne.