Joining forces for a renewed Europe
29 August 2019
This is part of a series looking at the priorities of the European Council and President-Elect of the European Commission ahead of the start of a new legislative term in the autumn. Orgalim Director General Malte Lohan discusses how Europe’s technology industries can support EU policymakers in delivering on the objectives that matter most to European citizens.
Over the last six weeks I have taken a look at the strategic priorities shared by the European Council and Commission President-Elect Ursula von der Leyen for the next EU legislative term: from protecting Europe’s citizens, values and freedoms to building a strong economic base; from shaping a green, climate-neutral future, to promoting European values and interests around the world.
In doing this I wanted to highlight something that is often forgotten when we draw artificial lines between ‘industry’ on one side and ‘society’ on the other: without a strong, competitive and innovative industry here in the EU, it will be near impossible to deliver on the political priorities that matter most to European citizens. The products and systems developed and manufactured by the technology industries shape every aspect of our lives. They will play a vital role not only in reinvigorating the EU economy and providing high-quality jobs, but in addressing the most urgent challenges we face – from achieving climate neutrality to adapting to demographic change. Social cohesion and prosperity depend on a healthy economy – whose backbone is and remains Europe’s industry. All this means that while we may not always agree on the best way to get there, industry and policymakers are by and large pursuing the same goals.
We share something else that is ultimately most important: a commitment to Europe and a belief in the future of the EU. Our industries are firmly rooted in Europe, they have built their global success with Europe’s Single Market as a foundation, and they are united by common European values. Europe is part of our companies’ DNA.
In the current context, I believe the importance of this cannot be overstated. I was born into a house that lived and breathed the European project, with my father working at the Commission back when the EU was still the EC and counted just nine Member States – before the Single Market, before Schengen, before the Euro… This was the generation that built the EU that we now take for granted. The notion that Europe had to be ‘built’, one step at a time, is deeply ingrained in me from those years; I knew it was hard work, but the process seemed natural and irreversible.
The contrast to today is striking: it feels like the central challenge now facing the EU is to stop us from breaking apart. The idea of ‘building’ something with a greater meaning and purpose has got lost – and when we reduce European integration to transactional or material terms, no wonder it struggles to inspire. But when I see the rise in turnout at the EU election or hear a fresh dynamism in European political debates, I think we are finally witnessing a desire to breathe new life into the European project that has benefited us so greatly. Because of our European DNA, the technology industries represented by Orgalim are part of this chorus calling to renew our commitment to European collaboration, not just as businesspeople but fundamentally as citizens who believe in the EU.
In an ever more uncertain globalised world, Europe will only succeed if it works together, not only across borders but also by joining forces across policy, industry, and all groups who have a stake in the EU’s future. By shaping a European framework to enable innovation and long-term sustainable growth in our industries and beyond, policymakers can deliver on the promise of a better future for all citizens. Let’s show what EU collaboration can do for European citizens – Europe’s technology industries stand ready to play our part.
Read Orgalim’s vision for how we can reinvigorate citizens’ belief in the EU and champion the ‘European way’ in the 21st century by putting innovation at the heart of Europe’s future in ‘2030: an industry vision for a renewed Europe’’.