Martin Kapp, the president of Cecimo, Europe's association of machine tool producers, is calling on politicians to improve the region's manufacturing environment.
ETMM: You recently noted that the manufacturing sector could help bring Europe out of its growth slump. How?
Kapp: Despite the destructive impact of the economic crisis, mechanical engineering is one of the best-performing EU sectors, with a large trade surplus. It provides direct jobs for three million Europeans. Manufacturing can help to invent new industries, boost the innovation capacity of Europe and equip Europeans to become highly-skilled people. Currently, manufacturing companies are striving to find people with the right skills in Europe.
We are lucky to have maintained a strong research and manufacturing base, which has not been the case for the US, for instance. This is why the US economy lost a large share of its manufacturing due to intensive off-shoring in the past decade. By making the right investments in infrastructure, human resources, research and science, Europe can unleash the full potential of advanced manufacturing industries to contribute towards the knowledge-based low-carbon economy.
ETMM: What national and pan-European laws have been hurting manufacturers?
Kapp: There is no particular piece of legislation affecting European manufacturers. They have been suffering from the overall economic problems surrounding the Eurozone, which have caused investments in Europe to slump. Basel III rules, e.g. tightening up liquidity requirements for banks, are leading to the deterioration of lending conditions with negative consequences on manufacturing companies. Despite the existence of a real demand in the European market, lack of liquidity is delaying investments on the users’ side, which hampers demand for machine tools. Moreover, worsened access to finance prevents manufacturers from making new investments in innovation, thus impairing the competitiveness of European companies on the global stage.
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