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A new trajectory for European industry post-COVID

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Our French MEP Christophe GRUDLER (MoDem), member of the European Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) reacted to the presentation yesterday by the European Commission of the European industrial strategy, for which he was the shadow rapporteur. It had been revised in the light of the unprecedented health, economic and social crisis caused by the COVID pandemic.

"The response could have been one-sided: the "every man for himself" attitude of the Member States sometimes came close to prevailing, from the supply of protective equipment to the vaccine race. But the Union has shown solidarity and has come out stronger, with a recovery plan unparalleled in the world and new mechanisms for joint action, such as the creation of HERA, the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority", the French MEP said.

Expectations were high in the run-up to the strategy: a real change of direction, a policy more focused on the search for strategic autonomy. However, after having postponed the publication of its communication several times, yesterday the Commission proposed a strategy that is not very far off the beaten track.

Among the new initiatives in response to the crisis, many can be considered as first steps, sometimes timid, in the right direction: that of a less naïve Europe equipping itself with real resilience instruments. Case in point: the establishment of a periodic review of strategic dependencies on 137 products classified as essential (half of which come from China). In order to reduce these dependencies, the Commission is committed to developing a toolbox, combining trade policy, common stock management and the launch of new Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCE) on the cloud, microprocessors or the pharmaceutical sector.

In parallel to this strategy, the Commission yesterday published the long-awaited proposal for a regulation on the negative effects of foreign subsidies. Grudler: "This is another step towards a less naive competition policy, but we need to go further. We urgently need to start revising the competition rules, especially in the field of energy and environment, to enable our companies to be leaders in this transition."

Finally, MEP Grudler summed up his view of the industrial strategy as follows: "It’s a step in the right direction and I will continue to push for more ambition at the level of the European Parliament."