Europe’s persistent competitiveness shortfall during the last years threatens growth and jobs. Europe keeps on losing ground towards main competitors. We will not regain global leadership without a strong industry bringing back growth, employment and innovation to the EU. It is mainly companies, not governments, which create jobs.
However, companies willing to invest in the EU keep facing too many hurdles. The fall in EU investment during the crisis was sharp, unprecedented, and is taking time to rebound. Private investment in the EU fell by 11% between 2007 and 2013. The current uncertainty, both economic and political, is a key reason holding back investment. Without investment, we will damage Europe’s future productivity and competitiveness, permanently lagging behind our main competitors.
Much-needed structural reforms are still not implemented in all Member States holding back growth in Europe. High costs of doing business reduce the margins of companies. High levels of economic, political and regulatory uncertainty detain much needed investments hampering industrial competitiveness. Fragmented markets and uncoordinated policies impede the digitalisation of industry and contribute to high energy prices thereby driving private investment out of Europe. The World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report also clearly shows a competitiveness divide among Europe’s 28 Member States. However, as concluded in our 2015 BUSINESSEUROPE Reform Barometer, the structural reforms that have been implemented by some Members States in recent years are already paying off.
Industrial competitiveness returned to the centre of the EU policy agenda in the last years. In 2014, the European Council called upon the preparation of an industrial policy roadmap. The new European Commission is highlighting the need to put Europe’s industry back on to a path of growth and to strengthen the EU’s industrial competitiveness. President Juncker explicitly stressed in his 10 priorities to bring industry’s weight in the EU’s GDP back to 20% by 2020, from less than 16% today. BUSINESSEUROPE calls on the EU political leadership to deliver concrete actions now. The implementation of the following recommendations is a way to foster a high-performing industrial base and bring sustainable economic growth back to Europe.
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