Members of the Alliance gathered in Pamplona and put forward their proposals
to ensure a just and sustainable transition
The European automotive
sector is still in a leading position when it comes to innovation in the global
automotive industry. However, European automotive regions may fall behind if no
adequate funding, reskilling of workforce and supporting infrastructure is
provided for them, regional leaders have warned at the second meeting of the Automotive Regions
Alliance (ARA), held in Pamplona on 9 November.
The European automotive sector is at the forefront of innovation in the global automotive industry. Production, research and development are driving forces behind the industry, which accounts for 7% of total EU employment and, directly and indirectly, supports the jobs of more than 13 million Europeans.
The transition towards zero-emission and digitalised vehicles will heavily impact the regional automotive eco-systems and socio-economic structures, members of the Alliance said. Of the 35 member regions of the Automotive Regions Alliance founded by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), 26 gathered in Pamplona to bring to the fore the concerns of the automotive sector in their regions. They adopted a declaration calling for the establishment of a European mechanism within the next Multiannual Financial Framework, with the aim of mitigating the disruptive effects of the ongoing transition and to strengthen the competitiveness of the entire European automotive industry. They emphasised the need for EU funding to be programmed in collaboration with regional and local stakeholders and suggested that the European Commission should consider expanding allocations from the Just Transition Fund to include the activities related to the transformation of the automotive industry.
María Chivite (ES/PES), President of the Regional Government of Navarra and Chair of the Automotive Regions Alliance, said: "I believe in the European project and in the need for forums like this one, where regions can discuss, promote and engage in public policies, contributing individual competencies to the development of a space for progress and cohesion. Strategic sectors like the automotive industry need public support and private-public cooperation, not only to achieve a successful, well-balanced and fair digital and sustainable transition but also to ensure Europe's fundamental role in global affairs. This is a key moment, for the time is now. So, we need to be bold, courageous and determined, and we must work together."
The 'Navarra Declaration' states that it is essential to allocate resources and public efforts toward training and reskilling to develop profiles aligned with the evolving needs of the industry and new production models. The declaration says that all stakeholders need to be involved, including via public-private partnerships, and urges the EU to use its funds to promote cooperation between industry, small and medium sized enterprises and research and education institutions. The Alliance also calls the European Commission to undertake a territorial impact assessment on the employment consequences of the shift towards a zero-emission automotive industry. The assessment should consider the variation of impacts across regions and across the supply chain.
Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and chair of the COTER commission of the CoR, said: "The transformation of automotive regions can only be successful if we make them a question of territorial cohesion: people, whose jobs are at risk, must know that they will not be left alone. The Automotive Regions Alliance with 35 member regions shows the extent to which regions are affected by the structural change and transformation process of one of the most important industrial sectors in Europe. In the transformation, the phasing out of internal combustion engine cars will be crucial but the regions must be supported politically and financially from the European level in their endeavour to manage this transition process."
At the meeting, the ARA, the Automotive Skills Alliance and the CoR's Future of the Automotive Industry Interregional Group agreed to work together to facilitate a just transition in automotive regions. They will collaborate together to address the challenges of the automotive-mobility by advocating for more support for reskilling and upskilling regional workforces, fostering strategic regional projects and best-practice exchanges among automotive regions, and enhancing the skills agenda. In the process, they will highlight regional challenges and transformation strategies tailored to regional needs.
A just and fair transition towards decarbonising the transport sector is the primary concern of the Automotive Regions Alliance, a political network of regions committed to the successful transition of the European automotive and supply industry. The Alliance is an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions that recognises the need for decisive action to achieve the EU's climate targets and aims to bring together regions with a strong automotive sector that want to play an active role in decarbonising the transport sector and contribute to achieving the European Green Deal targets to ensure a just transition for automotive regions. The Alliance currently consists of 35 participating regions. During the meeting on 9 November, the region of Navarra took over the chairmanship of the Automotive Regions Alliance, with Lombardy as vice-chair.
With the adoption of the internal combustion phase-out by 2035, the Alliance has a key role to play: the European Commission is mandated to report by the end of 2025 on what budgetary resources are needed to make this transition fair for all. The legislators commit the European Commission to base its report on the work of the Automotive Regions Alliance. On 6 June, former chair of the Alliance and Saxon State Minister for Regional Development Thomas Schmidt, met with European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton and European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit to discuss social aspects of the transformation of the automotive industry and how to ensure a just and socially acceptable transition of the entire ecosystem.
The just transition in Europe's automotive regions is of central importance to the ARA and the Committee of the Regions. The CoR adopted during its October plenary session the political opinion on this topic by Sven Schulze, Minister for Economic Affairs, Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry of Saxony-Anhalt which calls for funds to be released from the current EU budget, which runs until 2027, and that continued support must be ensured including through EU cohesion policy and a possible successor to the Just Transition Mechanism.
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