On 17 June, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and its Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) held a spirited debate examining the views of organised civil society following publication of the European Commission's update to the new industrial strategy. The debate, which is the first in a series of joint activities by EESC sections on the topic, questioned whether the updated strategy contains sufficient elements to enhance EU industry's resilience and strategic autonomy.
On 5 May 2021, the Commission updated the EU Industrial Strategy to ensure that its industrial ambition takes full account of the new circumstances following the COVID-19 crisis and helps drive the transformation to a more sustainable, digital, resilient and globally competitive economy.
The CCMI president, Pietro Francesco De Lotto, who chaired the debate, said: ''The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many processes that were already ongoing. The speed with which society and industry have had to adopt digitalisation processes in these past 16 months is unprecedented and the changes we have experienced are ground‑breaking, first with supply chains, then with medical equipment and after that, with the vaccines. ''
The president of the Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT), Alain Coheur, who co-chaired the debate, described the context for the second panel's work, said: ''The crisis has brought other issues to the table that were not mentioned in in the first Communication on the industrial strategy in March 2020. We must see this crisis as an opportunity to give the European area industrial autonomy''.
Antony Whelan, digital adviser to European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, presenting the Commission tools to measure EU dependency, said: ''In our bottom-up exercise we identified a very limited number of areas where the EU as a whole is in a situation of worried dependency.''
The EESC will hold a series of debates on the industrial strategy: seven webinars, starting with the current one on 17 June. A high-level closing debate is planned for March 2022. (ks)