400 participants, key industrial players, global trend shapers and high-level policy makers discussed the future of industry at the "European Industry Day 2017" on 28 February in Brussels. Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), took part in the debate next to Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, Commissioners Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Internal Market, Industry, SMEs and Entrepreneurship) and Carlos Moedas (Research and Innovation).
The nature of industry is changing, driven by rapid technological innovation and increased global competition. This evolution of megatrends has shifted the focus towards the smartening our regions and cities concentrating resources on digitalisation, increased energy efficiency, circular technologies and a reliance on higher quality public services.
Describing regions and cities as the "powerhouse" of Europe's economy, President Markkula
argued that the EU must do more to support local and regional investment, "Cities and regions are responsible for planning and implementing economic strategies creating sustainable growth in Europe. Through more strategic investment and European partnerships, they are the catalyst of industrial innovation".
The President, who recently had his opinion on Bridging the Investment Gap
adopted by the CoR, further stressed that Europe's industrial future lay in start-ups & SMEs but more is needed to support life-long learning and to change the mind-set towards cross-cutting EU policy.
Across Europe many pioneering regions and cities have shown what can be achieved by working together. As a way of promoting bench-learning, the CoR has published a Guide on best practices in regional innovation ecosystems
which draws on the lessons of many of these pioneering regions and cities in stimulating the economy, creating sustainable jobs, promoting entrepreneurship and boosting SMEs.
The CoR will also organise a stakeholder Workshop on "The future of industry in Europe" focusing on the challenges and instruments for local and regional authorities on 2 May. A study on the topic has been already commissioned and will be available mid of March. The outcomes of the discussions are envisaged to lead to an own-initiative opinion to be presented in November 2017.
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