Koskela, Akseli

7 keys for saving the European industries: Tackle the COVID-19 crisis with ambitious investments in research, development and innovation

Akseli Koskela

Corona is plaguing us without an ending point. The decision-makers at the EU-level must start preparing for different scenarios in different fields in order to rescue our economy.

At this critical stage of preventing an increasing number of industrial shutdowns due to Covid-19 crisis, we should be foresighted. This outbreak represents an unprecedented situation for Europe’s citizens, society and economy, as we know it. It will take weeks, months, probably years before we can say this is over. We are very thankful for those macro-economic and political measures that Member States and the EU have already agreed to help tackle the pandemic. It is understandable that a big vessel takes more time to turn its direction.

The focus is needed on the crucial role of Europe’s industry to support society’s needs.

We have a strong health tech sector as well as strong chains of value in innovation and research. But also, the digital sector is needed in surviving and moving forward. The digital leap happened in one day and it must become a normality.

Finnish technology industries are already mobilized to ramp up the production of the scarce goods desperately needed to tackle the crisis, adapting production lines and supply chains to bridge critical gaps. But the crisis is going to hit in the second wave, after the services and many other struggling at this point.

Industrial supply chains are at the heart of maintaining continuity in our daily lives – from the supply of energy, water and food to mobility and health technology. The circular economy solutions from design to waste management are still crucial and the climate change happening.

For all these reasons, we are calling for an unequivocal commitment by the EU’s leaders that, wherever possible, industrial production and related operations must be maintained throughout the COVID-19 crisis. What the institutions of the EU could do, is to ensure a more coordinated and coherent approach across EU Member States, not least to avoid limitations to the free movement of goods and of the workforce needed to maintain production as much as possible.

We recognize that short term measures need to be in place to control the current situation, and we support the focus on essential goods. However, further support is needed to ensure a continued broader supply of goods to maintain industrial production. It is the main task of the single market instruments in the crisis.

Few ideas…

  • Commuting principles during the crisis are needed without barriers. It is possible to secure health of people but still maintain the critical movement of industry maintenance workers, as well as other necessary commuting.
  • Based on voluntary decision we should have already the contact tracing applications in the process of implementation. The European Data Protection Board has provided clear guidance on how to take into account the GDPR.
  • Cross-border functionality is essential in the development and sharing of the code. The Commission must also support the Member States in creating digital recognition services in making the future studying abroad and the residence permit process for incoming non-EU/EEA students easier and more flexible.
  • Public procurement must be levereged to the fullest and expedited during the crisis. The quality, life cycle cost and European resilience criteria must be emphasized in order to make sustainable and long-lasting decisions. EU co-ordination here is vital.
  • Multiannual Financial Framework (2021–2027) must look at renewal and recovery. Ambitious investments in research, development and innovation in particular will ensure an agile and resilient European industry.
  • Finding solutions to open the European market safely as quickly as possible is the key in saving the European industries.
  • Stating the obvious: The Green Deal programme must continue as the recovery programme for the whole of EU. The same tone goes for the data strategy. Green Deal and Digital Transformation create two cross-cutting priorities for the recovery.

Further information:

Akseli Koskela, puh: +358 (0) 44 277 1780, akseli.koskela@teknologiateollisuus.fi, twitter: @ak5eli