As the debate on EU membership and the ‘in or out vote’ in 2015 rages in the UK, a group of MEPs from the across Europe – members of the left-wing Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D) – are campaigning for the EU to intervene directly to revive manufacturing across the continent.
With austerity biting, demand is now at an all time low across Europe, the growing threat of big plant closures is rattling governments.
MEPs have called on the EU to focus on manufacturing and put industrial recovery at the heart of all its policies.
Arguing for direct intervention, S&D vice-president Patrizia Toia it was time for EU action.
“Above and beyond formal powers we should set up a steering group to bring together powers and resources scattered across all sectors, to work together with national, regional and local authorities,” she said.
“Industrial policy can be the solution to the crisis, because it is fundamental to growth and job creation, but we need strong investment and more social dialogue with workers at plants facing difficulties,” said Pepa Andrés, S&D shadow rapporteur on ‘Re-industrialising Europe To Promote Competitiveness and Sustainability’.
“In drafting its policy, the Commission should take into consideration the entire chain: from raw materials and energy models, all the way down to services.”
The debate took place as workers from the ArcelorMittal factory in Liège, Belgium demonstrated in Strasbourg over the sale of their site.
Belgian S&D Euro MP Frédéric Daerden expressed his support for the workers who are facing job losses, and said Europe should ease the transfer to a new owner and convince ArcelorMittal to accept a new owner who can afford the investment needed.
“I am convinced that industrial policy requires new investment from the EU and from member states, as well as environmental and social balance. We must stop being the victims of destructive international dumping,” he said.
Its good to see that some MEPs share Unite’s view there is an alternative to grinding austerity and that what is needed is an interventionist manufacturing strategy to get the economy moving again – not just in the UK – but across the EU.