On 23 January the members of the Commission for Economic Policy (ECON) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) presented their local and regional viewpoints on the EU strategy for industry, the EU Defence Fund, and the EU Trade Package.
Strengthening Europe's competitiveness in a globalised world is the focus of the three opinions discussed and adopted by CoR members during the ECON commission meeting in Brussels. Cities and regions have important powers and competences in policy areas that are of key importance for industry and trade, such as research and innovation, education and skills, export support, infrastructure, SMEs and regulation. Having cities and regions on board will be vital for Europe's success.
A European strategy for industry
The aim of an industrial policy strategy at European level is to respond to current and future challenges, opportunities and factors relevant to the competitiveness of European industry. The draft opinion drawn up by Heinz Lehmann (DE/EPP), member of Saxony regional parliament, emphasises innovation, key enabling technologies, important projects of common European interest, digitalisation, SMEs and leadership in a low-carbon and circular economy. Given the centrality of regions and regional ecosystems to industrial modernisation, the rapporteur calls for the EU's strategy to have a strong regional dimension.
He further highlights the importance of a well-functioning single market in goods and services to better integration of local and regional companies in global value chains, making it an essential success factor for European industry. His argument is that a deeper and fair European single market would promote the productivity and cost competitiveness of manufacturing industries.
Proposal for a European Defence Fund
In his draft opinion , Dainis Turlais (LV/ALDE), member of Riga City Council, supports the initiative to set up a European Defence Fund (EDF), as well as the creation of the resulting European Defence Industrial Development Programme to enhance the competitiveness and innovativeness of Europe's defence industry .
He points out that not only could SMEs and start-ups make a considerable contribution to technological progress in the defence sector, but their inclusion in European supply chains could also enhance the security and defence of the EU, industrial competitiveness and Europe's strategic autonomy.
A common framework for screening of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the main point of discussion in the draft opinion on EU trade policy drawn up by Micaela Fanelli (IT/PES), mayor of Riccia in the province of Campobasso. The rapporteur welcomes the principle of EU-wide FDI screening, but calls for clearer criteria and more legal certainty when such screening is necessary at EU level. She also stresses that the planned multilateral investment court (MIC) should not be able to bypass domestic legal systems or local government decisions defending the rights of private investors.
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