The sector of technical textiles which registered positive economic and employment trends in the EU is an example of "traditional sectors" able to "reinvent itself" on new business model fully suited to the needs of the new industrial revolution (more smart, more inclusive and more sustainable).
Textile Materials and Technologies are key innovations that could respond to a huge variety of societal challenges. Technical textiles are enablers in other industries by proposing and offering:
- alternative materials: light-weight, flexible, soft, (multi)functional, durable
- new technologies: flexible, continuous, versatile
- functional components reliable, multi-functional, cost-effective, user-friendly parts of larger technology systems and solutions.
The European Economic and Social Committee draws the attention of the European Commission and of the European Parliament to the major factors of success that need to be encouraged in order to foster the growth of this promising sector:
- to put in place at national and EU levels simple and efficient means aiming at encouraging and financing technological and non technological innovation;
- to support all the necessary efforts enabling the work force to upgrade its qualification and to adapt its skills to the growing markets (health, construction, transports, cosmetics ...);
- to include in relevant EU R&D programmes a textile component, with the aim of fostering the substitution of traditional materials such as steel and cement by more sustainable textiles materials, and to strengthen research of recycling of these materials as well as in the evolving area of the "CO2 economy" (CO2 as resource);
- to take into account the effect of any increase of energy cost on high energy intensive companies in the EU operating for instance in the non woven and composites manufacturing;
to support industry in conducting life-cycle assessments in order to demonstrate the environmental sustainability of the products.