Industrial policy: local roots and the human factor are vital to recovery

Published on Financial, April 16, 2013.

… The representatives of the EU’s towns and regions underline however that local roots and the human dimension are the most decisive factors in the future of European industry. In their opinion, adopted at plenary session, they also call for better coordination of industrial policies and of EU cohesion by means of territorial pacts.

Highlighting the industry’s leverage effect on the economy as a whole, especially in terms of jobs, the CoR advocates making industrial renewal a genuine political priority, on the same political footing as cohesion, infrastructure and agriculture. At the same time, as European Union said, it points out that although this imperative is increasingly recognised, it is not always supported by the Member States, as borne out by the cuts that the European Council proposes to make in the future EU budget in sectors of particular importance for industry (research & innovation and trans-European infrastructure, for example) … //

… The CoR emphasises the key importance of human capital and social dialogue. It calls for the social partners to be more closely involved in businesses, states and regions, and especially in managing restructuring. Moreover, it proposes that forward-looking management of skills and change be viewed as a crucial component of industrial policy.

The European Parliament rapporteur, Reinhard Bütikofer (DE/Greens), also came to the CoR to outline the main points of the debate. He wished to emphasise that “Regions are a key element in the context of industrial policy. In this vein, Europe needs a strategy to reindustrialise its Southern economies. It is a shame that this dimension finds no space in the European Commission’s Flagship Initiative”. The MEP also agrees with the CoR’s opinion on the importance of skills and human capital. “These aspects need to be strengthened by focusing on more social dialogue, worker participation, vocational training and social innovation. Regions play an important role in this regard”.

Turning more specifically to restructuring, the CoR has set out its position on the future EU guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty in order to contribute to the debate at an early stage. The guidelines are expected in the second half of 2013, In its opinion that was passed unanimously, the CoR argues for simple, fair and transparent rules so that State aid can help businesses to overcome periods of instability, safeguard their industrial know-how and help keep jobs in their regions. In this regard, the rapporteur, Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES), Mayor of Coulaines, stresses that “State aid is not a bad thing, but nor is it necessarily a good thing: it needs to be properly calibrated and regulated to ensure that it makes economic sense and serves the public interest.”

The opinion opposes the idea of limiting the scope of the guidelines to firms that are in formal insolvency proceedings. It calls for the maximum amount of aid to any one firm to be raised from EUR 10 to EUR 15 million, to take account of inflation and increased GDP, and for the possibility of compensatory measures in the case of public authority involvement (for example, a ban on payment of dividends during the restructuring period). The Committee also backs the application by analogy of the “anti-relocation” clause contained in the structural funds regulation, and the introduction of specific de minimis thresholds of EUR 200 000 for SMEs and EUR 500 000 for other businesses for notifying the Commission of State aid.
(full text).

Links:

Reinhard Bütikofer on en.wikipedia …  is a German politician for the Alliance 90/The Greens party and was from 8 December 2002 till 16 November 2008 party leader, together with Claudia Roth. 10 november 2012 Bütikofer was chosen co-spokesperson for European Green Party …;

Video: Interview avec Christophe Rouillon sur l’économie licite, 2.53 min, mise en ligne par pesgroup le 25 janvier 2013.

Comments are closed.