Message from the Secretary General – September 2014

The September rentrée is the time of year when people and organisations start new projects, as well as pick up where they left off, after a summer of well-deserved rest and recuperation.

This year, however, holds particular significance for Europe, as it sees a new European Parliament take its seat and a new College of European Commissioners appointed. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, ACEA, warmly welcomes and congratulates these new (and returning) political leaders.

The world has profoundly changed since the outgoing Commission came to Brussels in 2009. The financial and debt crises that rocked the EU’s economy also took a large bite out of sales of motor vehicles on the continent. GDP and motor vehicle sales are closely linked, so the automotive industry is strongly supportive of the necessary reforms to keep EU industry competitive in a changing world.

It is with these reforms in mind that the industry recently came up with a manifesto that it has put to Europe’s policy makers. The three pillars of this reform agenda are to:

Drive innovation

The automobile industry invests €32 billion annually in R&D. Helping the industry leverage this R&D investment through Horizon 2020 is just one route via which the fruits of research and innovation can be rolled out to European consumers and transport operators in the form of cleaner, safer and more connected vehicles.

Foster growth through international trade

With a net trade balance of €95.7 billion – nearly twice the total trade surplus experienced by the EU in 2013 – the automobile industry puts Europe firmly on the global map. The world vehicle market is on the rise, so open trade is crucial for the further growth of the EU automotive industry. To maximise on this, we must have a trade policy that is balanced, providing real opportunities for export.

Build a supportive regulatory framework

With a regulatory framework consisting of around 80 EU Directives and over 70 international UN Regulations, the automotive industry is one of the most regulated sectors in Europe. While the industry is committed to actively promoting sustainable mobility, strong support by policy makers through a balanced regulatory framework is needed to maintain its leading position in the global marketplace.

 

Incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s recently presented agenda for jobs, growth, fairness and democratic change is a welcome set of priorities as they also focus on the auto sector’s key aims of supporting jobs and industrial production in Europe. Europe’s policy makers and industry leaders have to continue to work hand in hand to build the necessary conditions for stronger growth, more jobs and greater investment. ACEA will continue to contribute constructively to policy discussions so that together we can ensure that this vision gets closer, both this year and in the next.

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