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24 Jun 2015

Commissioner for Industry: Europe needs to promote defence research

"Empowering our businesses to adapt and grow: a new approach to European industrial competitiveness" was the subject Elżbieta Bieńkowska, – Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, spoke on before the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on 23 June 2015. The Commissioner had also previously sent a letter to Council Ministers on how Europe's industrial competitiveness can be improved.

Commissioner Bieńkowska stated that Europe was currently falling behind its competitors, for instance by not investing enough in new technologies, or by European companies not spending sufficient amounts on research and development compared to Europe's competitors. The Commissioner also pointed out that the EU is now only the fourth innovating region on the world, behind South Korea, the United States and Japan.

As part of the Commission's "new industrial approach", the intention is to promote the modernisation of EU industry and to encourage European firms to adapt by digitising, by developing energy-efficient technology, or by adopting other new cutting-edge technologies. Calling on European industry to "innovate and create more advanced technologies", the Commissioner mentioned space and defence as to examples "where Europe is at the forefront of the technological and industrial excellence".

Stating that "there is no defence policy without a strong defence industry", the Commissioner regretted the dramatic decrease in research spending over the last years, which could put Europe into danger of losing its capacity to answer the security challenges it faces. She therefore called for "a strong European defence industry which is investing in research, remaining the leader of innovation and taking the full benefits of the integrated internal market" and said the EU had to support the efforts of Member States and industry, especially in research in defence. The Commissioner therefore announced that she would propose next year to launch a three-year Preparatory Action on Research in defence, as well as a Road-map on Security of Supply for the defence industry.

Full text of Commissioner Bieńkowska's speech (check against delivery)

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