Tuesday, 31 March 2020 14:26

New EU Industrial Strategy & SME strategy

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On 10 March 2020, the European Commission presented its strategy in one of its key priority areas: the New Industrial Strategy, SME strategy and several initiatives to improve the functioning of the Single Market. Below is a summary of the key elements of relevance to the recreational boating industry. EBI will be engaging with the EU institutions to ensure inclusion of the boating sector in the implementation of the strategy.

Industrial Strategy

The main objectives of the strategy are to address the environmental transition, which links it to the European Green deal, and digitalisation. It has a high level of ambition to maintain and grow Europe's industrial leadership. A number of initiatives are announced:

  • Launch of European Clean Hydrogen Alliance to accelerate decarbonisation of industry
  • Reinforcing the role of standardisation and certification with the EU wanting to increase its influence in international standardisation bodies
  • Systematic analysis of risks and needs of different industrial ecosystems with development of a tailor-made approach for each sector
  • Reinforced customs controls to ensure that imported products comply with EU legislation
  • Sustainable and smart mobility industries with a focus on ship building and other transport sectors (a separate strategy will be launched)
  • Launch of a new Circular Economy Action Plan that will focus on high-impact products
  • Focus on skills and training with a “Pact for Skills” to be launched
  • Funding will come from all areas of EU funding (such as Horizon Europe and regional funds)
  • Set-up of Industrial Forum where industry will be represented 

SME Strategy

The European Commission recognises that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to address the key challenges for Europe and support the New Industrial Strategy. Its dedicated SME strategy is based on three pillars: 1) Support for transition to sustainability and digitalisation, 2) Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access and 3) Access to financing. A number of initiatives are announced:

  • Addressing regulatory burden through the “one-in, one-out principle” for new legislation and creation of EU SME Envoy to whom burdensome legislation can be flagged
  • Launch of portal to inform SMEs about customs procedures and formalities for exporting to third countries and dedicated SME chapters in future trade agreements
  • Support to improve SME’s access to finance, including a SME window of InvestEU to support with equity financing
  • Addressing skills gap with “Pact for Skills” to be launched including a component for SMEs
  • Funding opportunities under European Innovation Council (EIC) and other EU funding tools

Action Plan for implementation and enforcement of the Single Market

Based on a separate report on the barriers to the Single Market, the Commission published an action plan to address these and better enforce the Single market. The conclusion from the report for the Commission is that compliance with single market rules is lacking with too many barriers for businesses. The Action Plan focuses primarily on national authorities, but has some relevance to industry. A number of initiatives are announced:

  • Provision of guidance for national authorities on EU legislation
    • Guidance on Article 4 of the Market Surveillance Regulation (in relation to establishment of economic operators, including the Recreational Craft Directive
    • Update of the Blue Guide for implementation of harmonised products rules (relevant for Recreational Craft Directive)
  • Establishment of Single Digital Gateway for information and access to single market rules
  • New possibilities for businesses to report on Single Market obstacles

All documents can be found in full here.

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