Transition to a circular economy is a must if we are to protect our planet, but also if we are to increase the competitiveness of European industry. This is a long-term process that will require numerous initiatives at European, national and regional level. Companies see the circular economy as an opportunity. "Going green" is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for businesses, providing real savings in terms of raw materials, water and energy.
This Study brings light to the economic factors that contribute to sustainable growth in the European Union (EU) and investigates the political feasibility of economic reforms enhancing such factors. It also explores the aspects influencing competitiveness and fostering convergence and cohesion at EU and Member State levels.
This document is a summary of the two-day seminar organised on 26 and 27 October 2015 by the Employers' Group and its partners: Coldiretti, Confindustria, Confcommercion and AICE (Italian Association of Foreign Trade). The first day of discussion was devoted to the role of international trade in the Reindustrialisation of Europe. On the second day, the participants focused on food manufacturing, innovation and the circular economy.
"Achieving sustainable growth in a competitive world is challenging. The challenge is even greater for the European Union, as the Old Continent faces a severe competitiveness deficit. Without entering into a health review, that could be delivered at a further stage, of each of the 28 Member States, the ambition of this study is to draw-up a comprehensive picture of EU economic growth.
The business sector in Europe believes it is time to redefine EU priorities, by putting competitiveness first, implementing the better regulation agenda and offering better support for innovation. To improve the environment for investments in innovation and to address issues underpinning it, an appropriate framework must be put in place.
Europe is lagging behind other global players in terms of research and development (R&D). The business sector in Europe believes that if the EU is to become more competitive globally, more focus needs to be put on innovation. Greater clarity is needed in setting priorities. The most serious problem is that despite funds being allocated to basic research, the results of the research process do not make it to the market. Research and new technologies exist, but there are obstacles preventing them from being brought to customers.
European industry is a crucial part of the EU economy. Manufacturing still accounts for 80% of EU exports and ¼ of its employment. The goal of increasing manufacturing industry's share of EU GDP to 20% is still some way off. It currently sits at 15.1%. In order to increase this share, European industrial policy must be the focus of EU policy makers. The publication summarises a discussion entitled "Reinforcing European industrial competitiveness" organised by the EESC Employers' Group in November 2014 in Rome, Italy.
The EU is highly dependent on energy resources. More than a half of EU energy consumption is linked to imports. Increasing instability in the Middle East together with the deterioration of EU-Russia relations mean that energy security will remain at the top of the EU's agenda in the coming years. How can we achieve a true energy union? How can interconnectivity be increased between Member States? What should the ideal energy mix look like and how can energy efficiency be increased within the EU? The publication summarises the debate that seeks answers to these questions.