Brussels – At a plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) held in March, local and regional politicians got together to discuss and adopt measures on recommendations for the European industry to adapt to the ever changing world.
At the session, an opinion fact sheet drawn up by Heinz Lehmann (DE/EPP) highlights the potential of cities and regions to serve as hubs for innovation and thus support Europe's global industrial competitiveness.
The aim of an EU industrial policy strategy at the European level is to respond to current and future challenges and opportunities to enhance the competitiveness of Europe's industry. Cities and regions have therefore an important part to play in supporting the industry's capacity for change and innovation to make it fit for the digital age.
“The EU provides ways of maintaining and expanding a globally competitive industry. Innovation, investment in key enabling technologies, digitalisation, leadership in a low-carbon and circular economy, and a focus on important projects of common European interest are important pillars in making Europe's industry future-proof. Local and regional authorities need to be on board, as they have important powers and competences in critical areas such as research and innovation, education and skills, export support, infrastructure, SMEs and regulation,” notes Lehmann, a member of Saxony regional parliament.
Given the centrality of regions and regional ecosystems to industrial modernisation and innovation, the report calls for the EU's strategy to have a strong regional dimension. He also recommends more investment in the infrastructure necessary for advancing digitalisation, and urges better support for start-ups, scale-ups and cluster initiatives.
The report also points out that a well-functioning single market that provides free and fair access to the European market will help to better integrate local and regional companies in global value chains. All regions, including rural areas, should be able to participate in value creation and should have the opportunity to create and retain skilled local jobs. Lehmann noted that competitive business services are increasingly important for the productivity and cost competitiveness of the industry and essential to its success.