Tailwind from Brussels for the Automobile Industry
CARS 2020 is the EU Commission's action plan for the European automobile industry. Helping the industry maintain its leading position in global competition is the objective. The plan presented on 8 November 2012 in Brussels is the first component of the European Union's new industrial policy introduced in 2010.
The automobile industry is of strategic importance to the EU Commission. Twelve million people are employed directly and indirectly by the industry. It generates four percent of the GDP and posted a trade surplus of EUR 90 billion in 2011. Yet the industry is facing major changes. On the one hand the domestic European market is largely saturated and excess capacity has to be scaled back. On the other hand, the international competitive situation is changing. While increasing demand is expected for exports, especially from the developing countries, the industry has to become leaner in order to meet expected tougher competition.
Antonio Tajani, Industry Commissioner and Vice President of the EU Commission, comments on the situation: "The automobile industry holds all the cards it needs to surmount its challenges, remain competitive, become more sustainable and retain its production base in Europe. Since it has a multiplier effect on the economy, it should also provide a powerful impulse in Europe to maintain a strong industrial base."
The action plan is intended to promote the development of environmentally friendly vehicles as well as so-called intelligent traffic systems. Development of a Europe-wide interface is to promote the advancement of electromobility. Finally cross-border traffic with electric cars shall no longer be restricted by a national plug design. Plans are also in place to take the impact on the industrial competitiveness of car manufacturers into account with future political regulations in the transport segment.
The EU Commission wants to get the European Investment Bank involved in order to finance the innovation push being initiated. This is intended to provide easier access to loans for small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) in particular. After all, thousands of SMEs are part of the automobile industry next to the car manufacturers.