What is it?
The mechanical engineering industry is described as one of the leading manufacturing sectors in terms of performance and one of the most competitive in Europe, highly technological and export oriented. The industry has succeeded in maintaining its share of world markets in the last ten years at a time when other major producers such as Japan and the USA have seen their output and share of global production slide.
If, in the follow up to the economic crisis during the months up to mid-2011 there had been a resurgence of growth, European mechanical engineering has not been able to continue on that wave and is now feeling the full impact of increasingly fierce competition on global markets: in recent months this trend has, for some sectors of the industry, become more pronounced.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "The strong international performance of the EU mechanical engineering industry has turned out to be an asset for the EU in the era of globalisation. It is the proof that successful industrial production in Europe is possible. If innovation, productivity, export and customer orientation, creativity and entrepreneurship come together with a well-functioning internal market, industrial production has a bright future in Europe. Considering Europe's strengths, we can bring Europe back on a sustainable growth path. This is not wishful thinking, it can be done”.
Why is it important?
The mechanical engineering industry can and must play a strong role, if the EU wants to create more growth, it must build on their strengths and this is, among other, the European mechanical engineering industry because:
- It is a traditionally strong industry in Europe with a broad base and remains ahead of its global competitors in many areas.
- It is a future industry and has huge potential to help create the necessary growth required in Europe.
- It is one of Europe’s major employers.
- It is an industry which also helps to achieve the other important political objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, such as climate change, energy and resource efficiency.
- It enables other industries to become more competitive, efficient and environmentally-friendly and is therefore a key manufacturing sector in Europe.
The Mechanical Engineering industry is the enabler from which any physical prototype delivers a product to the market, be it mass produced or niche-market, consumer or investment product. We must maintain a highly efficient European Mechanical Engineering sector.
How we’ve been engaged
As long ago as 2005, EnginEurope, a high level discussion group (which comprised representatives from industry, academia, trade unions, member states and the European Commission), was an initiative which helped us to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the mechanical engineering industry in Europe. It has enabled us to plan a course of actions aimed at further strengthening the position of this leading European industry. Four key areas were intensively discussed: access to markets, employment and skills, research and innovation and a strategic industrial and technological base. The 65 recommendations have provided the basis for Orgalime’s work in industrial policy in the mechanical engineering sector for the forthcoming years.
In 2012, a study on the competitiveness of the mechanical engineering industries (a European Commission initiative), recognised the industry as a strategic enabling industry which participates actively in the Europe 2020 goals including at the level of societal changes, competitiveness and growth.
Orgalime provided subsequent recommendations on:
- Maintaining an attractive investment and regulatory framework in Europe.
- Ensuring stronger support for the industry at the level of R&D&I.
- Providing support for the industry to maintain its enviable export and trading performance.
- Providing more visible political support at the level of industrial policy.
In October 2012, the Commission adopted an Update of the Industrial Policy Flagship Initiative – 'A stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery', in which a focus on real economy is considered as “pivotal to Europe in order to trigger economic recovery by delivering sustainable growth, creating high-value jobs and solving societal challenges".
On 29 November 2012, both Orgalime and CEEMET responded to this Communication by releasing a Manifesto called 'Manufacturing a Stronger and Greener Europe' in which they recognise that EU industry needs the right framework to encourage industrial investment in Europe, in order to remain competitive on the global markets.
Market Surveillance of 'Capital Goods'
The machinery sector has played a key role in terms of market surveillance, this being a key element of a fair and efficient EU internal market and:
- Ensures that products placed on the Community market comply with EU regulations and do not pose any safety and environmental threats for users and the public at large
- Ensures a level-playing field / fair competition on the market
- Safeguards the coherence of the European regulatory framework, the consistency of which depends on effective enforcement
Whereas some sectors of the economy benefit from relatively well-organised and efficient market surveillance, capital goods suffer from a certain lack of focus. In mechanical engineering, market surveillance tends to be more reactive than preventive.
Mindful of the technical complexity of European Directives and Regulations, the industry is developing technical documentation to support national market surveillance authorities in their controls. Such documentation is developed by each sector independently and it felt sensible to gather existing and upcoming documents in one place in order to provide market surveillance authorities with technical assistance through a single access point.
The web-platform is designed to serve as a resource database of technical documents from European machinery industries. Information is available by sector and will be made available in several languages. In addition, the website is enriched with testimonials from industrialists and other relevant information on market surveillance.