Create the conditions to boost investment to make energy-intensive industries more competitive, Greek Presidency says

Posted on 07/03/2014 in Press Release

Brussels, 6 March 2014 – Europe needs more proactive policies to encourage investment in manufacturing and restore competitiveness in energy-intensive industries that have suffered in the crisis, the Greek minister for Development and Competitiveness, Kostis Hatzidakis, told a conference organized under the auspices of the Greek Presidency.

Brussels, 6 March 2014 – Europe needs more proactive policies to encourage investment in manufacturing and restore competitiveness in energy-intensive industries that have suffered in the crisis, the Greek minister for Development and Competitiveness, Kostis Hatzidakis, told a conference organized under the auspices of the Greek Presidency.

Europe needs to strike a balance between promoting environmental policies, eco businesses and traditional sectors such as chemicals, cement, steel, metals and refineries according to Mr. Hatzidakis.

“We have to avoid dogmatic approaches. We should not neglect environment but we need to strike a balance. We have to support Europe’s industry; there are no other means to create jobs. Take for example the refining sector: 15% of the refineries in Europe have closed or stopped operating during the period 2008-2013. This is dramatic” Mr. Hatzidakis said.

The upcoming European Council meeting this month will be crucial for a fruitful debate on the relevant issues and will define a clear strategy regarding industrial policy and competiveness, the Minister said.

“I believe that the initiative for the “Industrial Compact” will also contribute to our efforts for a reinforced policy,” he said. “It will complement the “Compact for Growth and Employment”, as well as, the “Fiscal Compact”, so that we can attain the objectives of the “Europe 2020″ strategy.”

At the same time, Mr. Hatzidakis underlined the need to reach an internationally binding climate agreement which does not undermine the competitiveness of European industry and job creation while meeting the environmental objectives.

The objective of the Greek Presidency is to make the “Industrial Renaissance” communication a priority the coming months and pave the way for the forthcoming Italian Presidency.

The minister also set as a high priority of the Greek Presidency the need to address the high costs of energy in Europe and complete the internal energy market. Other priorities set by Mr. Hatzidakis include:

  • Address the high cost of bureaucracy by improving the business environment
  • Improve financial access and addressing the consequent lack of liquidity
  • Stimulate investment in innovation, in conjunction with the digital agenda
  • Invest in knowledge economy and new skills
  • Deepen the notion of a single market
  • During the past few years, the Minister said, Europe became a less popular place to do business due to several factors: high energy cost and competition from regions where the manufacturing sector carries a much lighter labor, social, tax and regulatory regime; also access to finance for businesses has become increasingly scarce.

Energy Intensive Industries represented at the conference, including petrochemicals, steel, refining, non-ferrous metals and cement, underlined that 24 million jobs are at risk and therefore welcomed the Greek Presidency’s objective of re-balancing Europe’s policy priorities to focus on competitiveness and adopt a clear industrial strategy.

Fabrizia Benini, representing the European Commission, emphasized Vice-President Antonio Tajani’s support for the European “Industrial Renaissance” communication issued in January. Marco Peronaci, Ambassador – Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy, mentioned that the upcoming Italian Presidency would work closely with the Greek Presidency to progress this important issue after June 2014.