European Commission updates its Industrial Strategy to address COVID-19 developments

At the beginning of May, the European Commission updated the EU Industrial Strategy, first published in March 2020, to ensure that the circumstances following the COVID-19 crisis were taken into account.

The updated strategy reaffirms the priorities set out in 2020, while responding to the challenges presented during the coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in an acceleration of the so-called twin transitions, namely the green and digital transitions of EU industry. Within this objective of accelerating these transformations, the European Commission plans to: provide SMEs with Sustainability Advisors “and supporting data-driven business models to make the most out of the green and digital transitions”; and invest to upskill and reskill to support the twin transitions.

Accompanying the updated strategy is the Annual Single Market Report 2021, which divides the EU industry into 14 different ecosystems. These ecosystems include tourism and mobility-transport-automotive (within which the recreational boating industry falls). According to the new strategy, priority in understanding the impact of the twin transitions should be given to the ecosystems whose competitiveness depends on this, as well as sectors heavily affected by the crisis which would benefit from an acceleration. For these reasons, the document identifies tourism and mobility as the priority sectors. The timeline for this action is the second quarter of 2021.

Concerning the tourism ecosystem, the 2021 Single Market report identifies that SMEs represent 99.9% of the whole sector. The Commission plans to invest in sustainable and safe travel, clear rules on tourism data access and sharing, and delivering carbon-neutral destinations. Furthermore, the Commission strategy includes upskilling and reskilling the workforce to complete the twin transitions and standardise health protocols to rebuild consumer confidence.

Concerning the mobility-transport-automotive ecosystem, the Commission foresees major legislative adaptations, concerning for instance CO2 standards and FuelEU Maritime. This will bring a shift to clean mobility, decarbonising and digitalising the sector. Also, in this case the key actions include structural investments to shape technological alliances between manufacturers or with big technology companies, and reskilling of the workforce.

The European Commission contextually published a Commission Staff working document called “Towards competitive and clean European steel”, which analyses the challenges for the sector. This analysis stems from the fact that steel is an energy-intensive industry playing “a vital role in providing products and services to a wide-range of Europe’s industrial ecosystems”. Given the priority of a green transition, addressing breakthrough technologies and processes to make steel will be one of the priorities.

You can download the new EU Industrial Strategy and its annexes here.

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