Update from the EU Industry Days: February 7th, 2019

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Brussels, 7 February 2019 – CONEBI was present at the high-level Industry Days organized by the European Commission.

Important EU officials like Jean-Claude Juncker and Jyrki Katainen, respectively President and Vice President of the European Commission, but also stakeholders like Siemens, Airbus, Google and many representatives of European associations attended the EU Industry Days.

Below you can find a very brief update on some of the most interesting panel discussions.

The Impact of Globalization and Digitization in the Future of Industry
During the first day of the EU Industry Days, the European Commission organized a panel moderated by Jyrki Katainen, Vice President of the European Commission.
The discussion was focused on the role of globalization in the future industrial scenario and what Europe can do to remain competitive at a global level. As globalization is becoming a disrupting force, if Europe wants to keep on being competitive it needs to invest more in Research & Innovation and to develop a more industry-centered policy. Furthermore, as digitalization is minimizing the significance of distance (borders, transaction costs etc.) there is an urgent need to provide support to SMEs for internationalization purposes in order to become more competitive.
If European SMEs become more competitive at a global level, this will bring growth, better wages and better working conditions. Moreover, within the new digitalized eco-system, economies of scale become hyper-economies of scale by establishing concrete globalized platforms: in Europe we are lagging behind in this matter and this is why developing a common industrial policy within the EU should be at the top of the agenda of the next EU Commission.

Booming Battery Industry and Europe
This panel focused on the growing opportunities but also challenges of the battery market. The battery market is expected to grow tenfold within the next couple of years argued Perti Peltonen, the Under-Secretary of State of Finland. Also, Northvolt estimates that the market will be worth up to 250 billion euros a year by 2025. Furthermore, the Chief Executive Officer of EIT KIC InnoEnergy highlighted that there is a lot of market potential for the battery industry, as the demand is there and is booming.
Paolo Cerruti, the Co-founder and COO of Northvolt called for more European presence and responsible investment in Africa, especially in view of the Chinese control of almost 50% of mineral resources in the continent. Following an article of Reuters dated June 2018, Cerruti stated that there are ways to increase equipment productivity and lower raw material costs as well as the amount of energy needed to produce each gigawatt of battery power. Northvolt plans to build a factory in Sweden to produce 32 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery capacity a year by 2023. It is preparing to raise 1.2-1.5 billion euros in debt and equity to help build an initial 8 GWh of capacity, and expects the European Investment Bank – an existing backer – to provide a chunk of the debt.

Manufacturing and 4.0 Skills
During the second day of the Industry Days 2019 CECIMO (European Association of the Machine Tool Industries and related Manufacturing Technologies) organized an interesting panel session on “Manufacturing and 4.0 Skills”. The session highlighted how the employment skills in the manufacturing industries are changing due to Industry 4.0 – which refers to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes.
15% of the EU labor force is employed in manufacturing industries and many indirect jobs are linked to it. One of the biggest threats with increasing digitalization is that talent shortages and skills-mismatches can occur as many industries are going through changes: to better anticipate which skills will be required in the future, the European Commission has launched multiple projects to explore which ones are in growing demand at EU level by collecting cross-industry data.
First results show that technical competences in the fields of Digital, Big Data and Circular Economy are the ones strongly emerging in the new landscape. Partnerships between businesses and education centers are going to be a crucial reference point for the long-term development of the manufacturing industries in Europe.

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