Minister Mika Lintilä speech EU Industry Day

6.2.2019, Brussels

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished attendees of EU Industry Day 2019,

“Disruption” is what describes our European reality the best at the moment. We see short-term disruptions and are running against the time with several long-term megatrends challenging European competitiveness today.

Finland will be leading the Council of the European Union starting in this July. We are ready for the challenges that Europe is facing.

I also want to remind you that our challenges have been foreseeable for a long time. Climate change, resource scarcity and the changes in working life are all connected and need to be tackled.

I could say that the history of the European Union is based on challenges, also in the competitiveness. It started with steel and coal and we are still struggling with both. Tariffs on steel are an essential core of the trade policy and coal on the other hand is something we must replace with renewable options.

Ladies and gentlemen,

How about disruptions in working life?

Digitalisation and AI are essential elements for the EU’s economic success. Service sector is growing and should not be seen as the opposite to industry, but rather as complementary. Transformation of industry and services embracing digitalization are crucial for the economic growth, employment and global competitiveness.

Artificial intelligence and industry policy are also linked with environment and climate policy. It is necessary to respond to global challenges with innovations.

To fully seize the opportunities AI offers for economic development, it is vital to foster the global competitiveness of European enterprises as well as their access to global value chains and networks.

To reach a common and integrated European approach, the Single Market as a concept needs to be reframed in a more holistic and forward-looking way.

By way of example, a successful transition to a circular economy would require a more systemic view as well as more efficient use of data, platforms and key emerging technologies.

Business models of industries will be shaped more by platform economy than traditional value chains.

Artificial intelligence is an accelerator for value creation and we need to fully embrace the benefits from the AI and digitalization.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to underline the importance of strengthening research and skilling. The quality of education and skills in the Member States as well as increasing the innovation potential provide a crucial point on which we should build our strengths.

It is important that the multiannual financial framework programmes such as Horizon Europe and Digital Europe support enterprises’ ability to start using digital technologies and low-carbon solutions and the experimentation of new technologies.

In modernizing our union, one key goal is to defend free trade, based on rules, when competing with giants such as China or the USA.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My last point on industry concerns battery technology, which is utmost crucial to European Competitiveness.

I would like to convey my message to you:

For Europe, battery production is a strategic imperative for clean energy transition and the competitiveness of its automotive sector. It is important to create a competitive battery manufacturing value chain in Europe to prevent a technological dependence on our competitors. According to some forecasts, Europe could capture a battery market of up to €250 billion a year from 2025 onwards.

To be able to cover all parts of the value chain from raw materials to final applications joint European actions are needed. These actions includes innovation, financing and investments, standardization and regulatory base, trade and skills development.

Sustainable production takes into consideration reuse and circulation of products and materials. This concerns batteries but all other products, too,

With recycling, we face many challenges not only related to technology. We have to improve coherence of the regulation that we sustain competitive European industry, ensure safe work and safe products and at the same time become more sustainable society.

There is certainly room for improvement also in relation to the ways the authorities can, for their part, ensure a level playing field for the European industry.

With these words, I wish you all very productive afternoon!