EESC: Competitiveness and industry

In addition to enormous challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, Europe is facing a historic structural transformation. Together with the Employers´ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), I have been emphasizing that EU policymakers must strengthen the competitiveness of EU businesses. We have consistently advocated for a comprehensive programme to fundamentally deepen the Single Market and a more strategic approach to competitiveness, including a new “competitiveness check”. EU companies urgently need favourable conditions to innovate, invest, employ, operate and trade. Among other things, it is crucial to reduce the cumulative burden of regulation in the EU, address labour shortages and skills mismatches, and reduce and prevent barriers to the Single Market.

Given all the challenges and urgent needs, I am glad to have been able to contribute in the EESC to work on a very important exploratory opinion which focuses on “Competitiveness and Industry”. In this opinion, the EESC emphasizes, among other things, that:

  • Improving the competitiveness and productivity of industry is key for the EU to support economic growth and deliver on green and digital transitions;
  • The EU must ensure the quality of public administration and a growth-enhancing regulatory framework, including cutting red tape, simplifying procedures, fighting corruption, as well as avoiding market distortions and unfair competition;
  • It is key to further deepen the EU Single Market, which is and must remain the greatest asset for European industry;
  • The EU must promote open, rules-based trade while reducing strategic dependencies and preserve the principles of free but fair trade and its open strategic autonomy;
  • It is of vital importance to address the skills and ageing challenge, deal with labour market shortages and develop skills, including digital skills together with unleashing the full potential of the digital revolution;
  • Last but not least, the EU must focus on boosting RDI, ensuring secure access to decarbonised energy at stable and competitive prices and developing modern, interoperable and strategic European infrastructure.

As a member of the study group that worked on this opinion, I supported the concept of OPEN strategic autonomy. In my opinion, it is essential that the EU remains open and resists any protectionist tendencies while reducing strategic dependencies through diversification, further trade and investment agreements, partnerships and cooperation with like-minded trading partners. I also insisted that the EU must reduce the regulatory burden because, as the opinion rightly points out, regulatory excess is a drag on the competitiveness of European industrial firms. Among other things,I also highlighted the key importance of addressing labour and skills shortages, as the lack of access to a workforce with the skills required by business and industry remains one of the key challenges to competitiveness.

This ongoing opinion on Competiveness and Industry is scheduled to be voted on at the October EESC plenary session (25-26 October).

Jana Hartman Radová, EESC Member of Employers’ Group and Head of Brussels Office of Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic

Source: CEBRE

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