This article is part of our special report Europe’s Industry : Halting the Decline.
Trade unions say the European Commission's new industrial policy must be followed up with concrete actions.
The European Commission published a communication on industrial policy last week, attempting to re-launch manufacturing industry and calling fora "new industrial revolution" in Europe.
The industry is ready to lead the revolution, but it needs the right instruments, European trade unions said at a press conference Monday (15 October).
"We are glad to see that the Commission shares our view that onlya strong European industry can bring about economic recovery after years of crisis," said Ulrich Eckelmann, secretary-general of IndustriAll Europe, a trade union representing 7.1 million workers in the manufacturing, mining and energy sectors.
"However, if the European Commission sticks to its current austerity policy strategy, the goals of the flagship for industrial policy would not be reached. These two strategies would be absolutely contradictory," he stated.
The Commission's communication, titled Mission Growth: Europe at the Lead of the New Industrial Revolution, sets a new aspirational goal to increase the industry's share of EU GDP to around 20% by 2020, up from 16% currently.
The EU executive wants to promote the re-industrialisation of Europe built upon investment in innovation, better market conditions, access to finance and building human capital and skills.
Right targets, inadequate financing
IndustriAll Europe said it welcomed the new targets, but awaits adequate financing proposals.
"In order to increase industrial growth, the financing concept in the document would not be sufficient," Eckelmann said.
"Moreover, the effort of modernising Europe's industry should be accompanied by adequate employment strategies that provide for a socially just transition in cases of restructuring and reorganisation," the secretary-general said.
Eckelmann added that the current situation of the European industrial labour market, especially for young workers and recent graduates, was absolutely dramatic and completely unacceptable.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said the European industrial policy should focus on forward-looking industries, such as energy and transport, in order to achieve a green and sustainable economy.
A key element for ETUC is to have the means and resources for training to keep having a qualified workforce. "The EU must swing into action on industrial policy. European workers can no longer be content with declarations of hypothetical support for industry," said Bernadette Ségol, secretary-general at ETUC.