On September 18, 2017, a few days after it was flagged by President Juncker in his State of the Union address to the European Parliament, the European Commission formally launched its communication on “Investing in a smart, innovative and sustainable Industry – A renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy.” Although understandably broad in scope, the communication incorporates deep decarbonisation consistent with the Paris Agreement objective of net zero emissions by mid-century as a central goal; and in doing this, it emphasises the economic opportunity and need for innovation arising from this, both of which are a reflection of the new agenda for climate action globally. From an economic and social perspective, the question for the EU is how best to win the clean industrial ‘race to the top’ that has now been launched and is accelerating– and what policies are necessary for this for the EU to succeed.
The Commission communication is relatively weak in that respect; it provides an overview of current initiatives, but does not set out a further agenda on a process that is also a central component of the ‘Future of Europe’, and one that will need to be fully addressed within that broader debate too. It nonetheless provides a useful starting point for this reflection and debate about how to develop and implement a transformative industrial decarbonisation strategy for 2050 that is fully integrated in a wider economic transformation.
Since its inception in 2015, i24c has, together with the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, been investigating and considering what an industrial strategy for Europe would have to contain – and indeed calling for the development of just such a strategy. It is within this context that this working paper, “A mapping of EU Industrial and Innovation policy”, assesses the developments in EU industrial and innovation policy since the beginning of the 21st century, up until today.
Our objective in undertaking this mapping is to better understand the state of play of EU industrial and innovation policy. The paper provides a high-level inventory of EU initiatives and identifies the number and type of activities, the institutional responsibilities, their governance and evolution over time. The working paper concludes that in the last decade EU industrial policy has been relatively consistent, but that there are further options for greater ambition, and streamlining of policy initiatives and possibilities of synergies between EU and member state initiatives to fully enable the industrial transition towards a net-zero economy in 2050.