Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), The European automotive sector is still in a leading position when it comes to innovation in the global automotive industry, according to Europe’s regional leaders.
However, European automotive regions may fall behind if no adequate funding, reskilling of workforce, and supporting infrastructure are provided for them.
This was the stark threat from regional leaders who met at the second meeting of the Automotive Regions Alliance (ARA), held in Pamplona on 9 November.
The European automotive sector is at the forefront of innovation in the global automotive industry.
Production, research, and development are driving forces behind the industry, which accounts for 7% of total EU employment and, directly and indirectly, supports the jobs of more than 13 million Europeans.
The transition towards zero-emission and digitalized vehicles will heavily impact the regional automotive eco-systems and socio-economic structures, members of the Alliance said.
Of the 35 member regions of the Auto Regions alliance
founded by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), 26 gathered in Pamplona to bring to the fore the concerns of the automotive sector in their regions.
They adopted a declaration calling for the establishment of a European mechanism within the next Multiannual Financial Framework, with the aim of mitigating the disruptive effects of the ongoing transition and strengthening the competitiveness of the entire European automotive industry.
They emphasized the need for EU funding to be programmed in collaboration with regional and local stakeholders and suggested that the European Commission should consider expanding allocations from the Just Transition Fund to include the activities related to the transformation of the automotive industry.
Maria Chivite (ES/PES), President of the Regional Government of Navarra and Chair of the Automotive Regions Alliance, said: “I believe in the European project and in the need for forums like this one, where regions can discuss, promote, and engage in public policies, contributing individual competencies to the development of a space for progress and cohesion.
“Strategic sectors like the automotive industry need public support and private-public cooperation, not only to achieve a successful, well-balanced, and fair digital and sustainable transition but also to ensure Europe’s fundamental role in global affairs.
“This is a key moment, for the time is now. So, we need to be bold, courageous, and determined, and we must work together.”
The ‘Navarra Declaration states that it is essential to allocate resources and public efforts toward training and reskilling to develop profiles aligned with the evolving needs of the industry and new production models.
The declaration says that all stakeholders need to be involved, including via public-private partnerships, and urges the EU to use its funds to promote cooperation between industry, small and medium-sized enterprises, and research and education institutions.
The Alliance also calls for the European Commission to undertake a territorial impact assessment on the employment consequences of the shift towards a zero-emission automotive industry.
The assessment should consider the variation of impacts across regions and across the supply chain.
Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and chair of the COTER commission of the CoR said: “The transformation of automotive regions can only be successful if we make them a question of territorial cohesion: people, whose jobs are at risk, must know that they will not be left alone.”