The coronavirus pandemic has hit the health of Europe's citizens and its economy hard, notably its industrial production. The European companies in the sectors with high consumption of resources and energy (REIIs) were already in a precarious situation, and are now undergoing this further, unexpected, crisis. They were already confronted with a European market exposed to unfair competition from non-European companies that benefit widely, and illegally, from huge state aid that created a production overcapacity in all the sectors concerned, resulting in highly unbalanced conditions for competition, to the detriment of European companies. At the same time, European companies in the resource and energy-intensive sectors are also faced with the pressing need to adapt to the European policy objectives to address climate change through the implementation of the European Green Deal. The capacity of these companies to meet these objectives is key to the success of achieving the EU's established targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 2050.
Each sector has defined its own roadmap which includes the research and innovation actions necessary for the experimentation of new production technologies to achieve the progressive de-carbonisation of their production processes. After experimenting with these technologies on a laboratory and pilot scale, it will be necessary to carry out further tests on full-scale demonstration plants to test their industrial feasibility and reliability. All this requires huge investments that companies alone are not able to put in place owing to the lacklustre economic results due to the negative ecosystem in which they find themselves operating. Furthermore, in order to concretely achieve the objectives, it is necessary to create infrastructures for the production of large quantities of electricity and hydrogen from renewable sources and for their transport from the places of production to those of its use. The same need refers to the information and communication technology network and infrastructures to facilitate the progressive digitalisation of the territories where the companies operate.
In addition to all the other existing programmes for research and innovation (Horizon Europe, Innovation Fund etc.), the European Recovery Plan is a resource that, if properly used and addressed, can constitute a decisive element for the creation of the infrastructures necessary to guarantee the achievement of the REIIs objectives, from maintaining their current employment levels to creating new opportunities for quality and stable jobs, and thus surviving the consequences of the current crisis and ensuring their future sustainability.
Given the composition of the CCMI, its competence and strong continuous links with the REIIs sectors, this opinion would enable the EESC to define concrete guidelines and recommendations for the rapid application of the European recovery fund to facilitate the implementation of the roadmaps, and through the participation of, and cooperation among, the European Institutions, the Member States, the regional and local authorities, the social partners, and citizens and consumers organisations.