Industry is the backbone of the European economy, and a critical asset as Europe leads the way to the net-zero Age. Creating a supportive framework to make the industry fit for 2050 is the objective enshrined in the Green Deal Industrial Plan presented by the European Commission.
Industry is the backbone of the European economy, and a critical asset as Europe leads the way to the net-zero Age. Creating a supportive framework to make the industry fit for 2050 is the objective enshrined in the Green Deal Industrial Plan presented by the European Commission. An ambitious proposal complementing the ongoing efforts under the European Green Deal to combine the need to enhance Europe’s industrial competitiveness and support the fast transition to climate neutrality, but most importantly an opportunity to consistently bring together the funding pillars of the European economy.
Europe’s economic model roots its success around the Single Market. Boosting industrial competitiveness and avoiding fragmentation is a key prerogative of the newly presented Plan. Greater ambitions must go hand in hand with a shared sense of direction. “A common response, anchored in EU policies and instruments, will be far more effective than the addition of 27 national approaches,” states the official communication put out by the European Commission. An approach to which the sector fully subscribes to and which should be applied across all Union policies. Preserving the integrity of the Single Market is critical to favour the unfolding of the green and digital transition and “is the very core ingredient for prosperous net-zero industries of today and tomorrow,” said Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General.
With a proven track record as a standard-setter, the European manufacturing industry is a leading player on innovation and deployment of sustainable products. The foreseen Net-Zero Industry Act underpinning the Plan, will strive to provide a regulatory framework suited for their quick deployment and developing standards to support their scale-up across the Single Market. In this sense, the establishment of a successful product policy that takes into account the individual characteristics and specificities of a product, is the very grassroot of a flourishing, decarbonised economy. The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), which further expands the range of sustainability requirements, is the perfect tool to take Ecodesign to the next level. This can be achieved by ensuring complementary, consistent, and non-contradictory application of product requirements with existing and future legislations.
The upcoming Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) is another crucial element in the EU's transition to a climate neutral economy. With steel, copper and aluminium accounting for over 50% of the appliances available in our homes, securing access to critical raw materials is of utmost importance to the roll-out of sustainable products. The current geopolitical landscape, amid the most recent disruptions, further highlights the need for diversified supply chains, new and existing trade relationships, and investment in sustainable projects to ultimately increase critical raw material extraction and recycling in the Region and abroad. In this sense, “the proposal will be key for Europe to develop a strategic autonomy that can help preserve the long-term competitiveness of EU manufacturing and ensure industry access to critical materials,” commented Falcioni.
The development of high-quality European standards could provide EU industries with an important competitive advantage, also at the global level. Common European standards would not only allow businesses to scale up their technologies across the Single Market, but also attract investments with a positive knock-on effect on innovation and employment.
The European Green Deal Industrial Plan, first announced on the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, addresses the invitation by the European Council for the Commission to set out a framework aimed at boosting Europe’s resilience and competitiveness. The legal proposals, namely the Critical Raw Materials Act and the Net-Zero Industry Act, will be shaped in view of the next March Council.
Photo credit © European Union, 2023