16 October 2012 | WMF Press Release | EC President Stresses Europe’s Commitment to Manufacturing, Praises Sector’s Contribution in Economic Crisis

World Manufacturing Forum 2012


EC President Stresses Europe’s Commitment to Manufacturing,

Praises Sector’s Contribution in Economic Crisis

STUTTGART, 16 October 2012 – European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso today stressed the contribution that industry has made to Europe’s stability during the continuing economic crisis and assured an audience of worldwide manufacturing leaders gathered here of the European Union’s commitment to preserving and strengthening industry’s role in the European economy.

Speaking from Brussels to the more than 400 business and government officials gathered for the World Manufacturing Forum 2012, the Portuguese former prime minister stated that “European industry has proven to be a considerable asset during the crisis,” declaring: “An economy with a competitive industry is more resilient and less prone to the volatility of speculative activities.”

To back his claim, Barroso reminded the conference participants that the EU is among the world’s leading exporters in such industrial sectors as aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals, adding that industry accounts for 80 percent of the European Union’s current exports and for 80 percent of its private research and development expenditures.

But while 74 million jobs in the European Union depend on manufacturing and related services, he pointed out, the crisis has cost industry 3 million jobs, and Europe’s industrial production remains around 10 percent below the levels it reached in the years prior to the crisis.

“We cannot be complacent with historical trends that progressively damp the role of industry in our economies,” he said. “We can reverse these trends and we intend to do so.” Only last week, he noted, the European Commission put forward a communication on industrial policy calling for action on four levels:

1)    creating partnerships in which the EU, its member states, and industry collaborate to foster what he called “the best possible conditions for development of new markets based on new technologies”;

2)    speeding up standardization activities and continuing to support EU firms’ development on international markets;

3)    seeking broader access for businesses, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to capital markets by “maximizing the potential European budget and diversifying the choice of financing sources available”; and

4)    coordinating more closely with member states to ensure the availability of the human capital and skills crucial to industry.

”Europe needs to invest in new technologies and innovation,” said Barroso. “We are on the eve of a new technological era, which some analysts have called a New Industrial Revolution, where new and cleaner technologies fundamentally change production patterns and also the global value-added chain. We cannot afford to miss the opportunities brought by these changes.”

The second annual World Manufacturing Forum is supported by the European Commission and the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) international cooperation program, as well as by leading industries, trade and professional associations, and other institutions. It is being held 16-17 October.

For more information, please visit the Forum’s website, www.worldmanufacturingforum.org.