Focus on Digitising European Industry

The digitisation of industry can no longer be ignored. It can be seen developing in every sector, ranging from the IoT in home appliances to automation in the workplace – yet, a constructive and common EU-level framework to deal with the various issues that digitisation will inevitably encounter has yet to be properly formulated. And this will take time as it is too early to move in most areas where we are seeing budding growth. Interest in the digital transformation that industry is currently undergoing has nevertheless become apparent, and the European Parliament published a report about it in April 2016. More recently, the Competitiveness Council called upon the European Commission to implement an industrial strategy and have it up and running by spring 2018. Such an action plan, with concrete resources will have the positive effect of incorporating support for digitisation within an ambitious strategy.

On Wednesday 21 June, Orgalime, in partnership with the European Forum for Manufacturing (EFM) organised a dinner debate at the European Parliament. The discussions highlighted new models for manufacturing, with company speakers demonstrating how they have incorporated digital systems into their work, and the benefits to be reaped from this transformation. Under the Chairmanship for this event of MEP Mr. Bütikofer, MEPs, the Director General of DG CONNECT of the European Commission, Mr. Roberto Viola and a delegate from the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU discussed the steps ahead and the work currently being done at the EU level.  

It was encouraging to note the very broad support, both across the industry but also across political parties that more must be done to achieve a successful digital transformation for European industry. One core concept, emphasised by MEPs and the EC, put EU-wide collaboration and participation as a central tenet in delivering a stronger and more competitive outcome. Indeed, the US and certain Asian countries currently dominate the B2C digitisation landscape, but the tools that the EU has in place, and the scope of available talent should allow European industry to become much more competitive and to take the leading role in the digitisation of industry, starting from its strong manufacturing base.

Overall, the tone was vastly optimistic, and it was felt that the steps being taken were certainly being taken in the right direction. Orgalime has stressed the need for a greater role to be played by the EU in supporting the digitisation process – this would boost the current transitions being implemented on the ground. A more prominent strategy put forward by the EU would benefit all European regions, and have a greater impact on job creation and economic growth. The digitisation of industry will undeniably be a transformative process, and will raise many different challenges, both on social, economic and even political levels – but the end product will undoubtedly usher in a new period of greater competitiveness, innovation and growth in the EU. This is good for the industry, for its growth, for employment and last but by no means least, for the EU.    

For more information on Orgalime’s views on the digitisation of industry please consult our website. Photos of the event can be found here. Don’t forget to check out our new video outlining our vision for an industrial strategy, and finally, don’t miss out on the latest news on Orgalime’s activities and that of the industry by following us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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