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Procedure : 2013/2062(INI)
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PV 09/12/2013 - 27
CRE 09/12/2013 - 27

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PV 10/12/2013 - 9.3

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013 - Strasbourg Final edition
CARS 2020: towards a strong, competitive and sustainable European car industry

European Parliament resolution of 10 December 2013 on CARS 2020: towards a strong, competitive and sustainable European car industry (2013/2062(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 173 of Title XVII of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (ex Article 157 of the Treaty establishing the European Community), covering EU industrial policy and referring to, among other things, the competitiveness of the Union's industry,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘CARS 2020: Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe’ (COM(2012)0636),

–  having regard to the reports of the CARS 21 High Level Group on the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the automotive industry in the European Union (2012)(1) and on a competitive automotive regulatory system for the 21st century (2006)(2) ,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ (COM(2012)0582),

–  having regard to the conclusions on the situation of European industry and the specific situation of the automotive industry adopted by the Competitiveness Council at its meeting of 10 and 11 December 2012,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0391/2013),

A.  whereas the automotive industry is a vital part of Europe’s manufacturing base and a key source of competitiveness, growth and jobs in the EU;

B.  whereas, despite the current economic and financial crisis of unprecedented proportions, Europe’s automotive industry has an important role to play in ensuring that certain skills and sectors of manufacturing are retained in Europe, and this requires coordinated action within the EU;

C.  whereas the current economic situation is not the sole cause of this crisis and whereas what is needed is a complete rethink of our approach to mobility in the 21st century, since mobility is a major factor in fostering economic growth;

D.  whereas the automotive industry is feeling the effects of a revolution in progress around the world, with demand in Europe falling or stagnating, whereas both demand and production are shifting to the emerging economies, whereas the energy sources used are changing gradually but noticeably, and whereas component parts and functions are being digitised, resulting in increasing levels of productivity, which in turn are bringing about major changes in the value chain;

E.  whereas Europe’s automotive industry is still at the forefront of research and innovation worldwide and therefore needs to restore competitiveness and sustainable production throughout the entire production and value chain;

F.  whereas one solution to the problem of excess production capacity is to convert capacity to other sectors of industry, such as public transport and renewable energy, and to invest in sustainable infrastructure;

Political governance

1.  Endorses the Commission’s new strategy of launching a new European industrial policy, in particular for the sustainable automotive industry, placed at the heart of Europe's economy;

2.  Expects the Commission to coordinate its own efforts more efficiently, in order to ensure that the CARS 2020 recommendations actually become operational and are monitored by the High Level Group in order not to repeat the failure of the first phase of the CARS 21 process (December 2005), when the conclusions reached were not followed by the necessary action; calls, accordingly, on the Commission to draw up a clear schedule of fast-track measures and, within its remit, to use its right of initiative, notably by drawing up guidelines, in order to coordinate and build on action by Member States and firms to ensure decent standards of living for EU citizens and to consolidate EU industries, focusing on economic and employment growth and market recovery;

3.  Calls on the Commission to develop cross-cutting roadmaps that cover development in the energy sector, the transport sector and the ICT sector;

4.  Believes that action by the Commission in this area is being hampered by various constraints and a lack of policy coordination mechanisms; calls on the Commission to submit a study showing the mismatch between what it wishes to achieve and the tools available to it, as the basis for a debate within the Council and Parliament;

5.  Believes that the Commission should take into consideration the entire automotive sector, in particular subcontractors, retailers and aftermarket firms, in all future policy-making processes involving the sector;

6.  Welcomes the industrial policy conclusions adopted by the Competitiveness Council at its meeting in December 2012; urges the Member States to pursue their stated aim of overhauling industrial policy in the automotive sector and firming up new arrangements for Europe-wide cooperation in that sector; points out that this closer cooperation on industrial policy for the automotive sector can take place either at Union level or on a voluntary basis among a number of countries;

7.  Calls on the Member States to carry out properly coordinated and structural reforms geared to enhancing competitiveness, such as support for research and innovation, competence building, staff retraining, lowering indirect costs, enhancing labour flexibility based on social dialogue, cutting red tape and shortening payment periods;

8.  Believes it essential, with a view to restoring faith in the EU, for the Union to improve the implementation of its action plan and the way the action plan is communicated to the general public, investors and firms;

Automotive industry and production in the EU

9.  Considers it essential for cohesive and dynamic research, manufacturing, production and value, and innovation chains to be maintained and further developed in the EU with a focus on the production of sustainable vehicles; takes the view that keeping Europe competitive in the future will depend on creating a virtuous circle that benefits innovation, employment, competitiveness, health, the environment and mobility;

10.  Points out that labour costs in the automotive industry account for between just 13 and 20 % of added value; points out, furthermore, that global competitiveness can only be guaranteed by means of innovation throughout the production chain and flexibility in production processes, and that this must accordingly be negotiated with the workers;

11.  Stresses the importance of maintaining and strengthening the production base in Europe so as to ensure decent living standards for its citizens and consolidate its industries with a view to achieving economic growth and recovery;

12.  Acknowledges the fact that the European market is in a state of decline and crisis, including in the automotive sector; considers it regrettable, however, that the Commission fails to analyse the fundamental causes of this decline such as the widely varying circumstances in the industry (firms, market segments and types, products, sectors) and the large number of structural changes (of a demographic, sociological, behavioural, economic and technical nature) that are taking place on the demand side; believes, therefore, that, alongside Europe-wide cross-cutting action, measures specifically tailored to individual circumstances need to be taken at both national and European level in order to stimulate demand;

13.  Considers that new behavioural patterns of mobility are powerful levers for boosting the competitiveness of the European automotive sector, such as public and multimodal transport networks, traffic management, smart cities, car-sharing and joint ownership schemes;

14.  Deplores the fact that the Commission fails to address the issue of over-capacity, despite the fact that it is a problem shared by the whole of the industry and one that has unavoidable short- and medium-term repercussions (chain, jobs, regional economy); calls therefore on the Commission to submit at the earliest opportunity:

   (a) a study on the scale of over-capacity in Europe and the best practice in addressing this problem, including outside the EU (United States);
   (b) an action plan setting out all the policy tools available in this area, including in particular those involving research and innovation;
   (c) proposals for more active and coordinated support for workers and companies in the automotive sector to promote the reorientation of skills and jobs towards other sectors that are growing;

15.  As regards restructuring:

   (a) welcomes the Commission’s intention to re-establish the task force to monitor major restructuring operations, as well as the publication of the Green Paper on effective restructuring practices (COM(2012)0007);
   (b) calls on firms and Member States to step up cooperation and efforts to anticipate industrial adjustments, in order to prevent negative externalities from undermining the cohesiveness of the industrial production process (jobs, production);
   (c) calls on the Commission and Member States to develop conversion plans in a coordinated fashion so as to support regions facing swingeing job losses in the automotive sector, and calls for integrated use to be made, in the process, of all European-level instruments (EIB, ESF and ERDF) and national instruments so as to assist the workers affected and redirect them towards alternative employment in related sectors, e.g. alternative energy, and for the available automotive technology to be optimised;
   (d) underscores also the central role and responsibility of firms and regional governments in conversion policy, in particular by improving worker training, but also by making available vacated sites for the socio-economic development and conversion of the regions concerned;

16.  Draws the attention of both Member States and firms to the fact that clustering (joint purchasing, cooperation arrangements, consortiums, mergers) provides a means of remaining competitive in the face of increasingly fierce competition from outside the EU;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the specific measures to step up access to capital markets for SMEs and mid-cap companies, notably by setting up regional one-stop-shops; considers that SMEs and mid-cap companies, in particular subcontractors, distributors and retailers and aftermarket firms, are those which are being hit hardest by the crisis; points out, at the same time, that such companies are an asset because their size and responsiveness allow them to adjust to change, and that they have been the initiators of many technological advances; considers, therefore, that one avenue of development to be pursued is the diversification of SMEs’ and mid-cap companies’ commercial opportunities (through internationalisation and involvement in new projects);

18.  Reiterates the importance of complying with the principle of technological neutrality in the choice of standards in order to protect the investments of first movers, thereby encouraging innovation in the sector;

Human resources

19.  Believes the know-how built up by the workers in the automotive industry to be an asset for Europe; welcomes the setting-up of the European Automotive Skills Council in 2013, and trusts that it will swiftly identify effective policies in this area;

20.  Welcomes the Commission’s statement on shaping skills and developing competences as the basis for a durable competitive advantage;

21.  Believes the labour market to be out of step with the industry's requirements (strong demand for skilled workers) at present; considers it essential in this connection to adapt not just public training strategies (promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and vocational training), but also firms' training strategies (in particular by extending dual-training systems) in order to enable firms to attract and hold on to highly qualified workers;

22.  Calls on the Member States to make the legislative adjustments required for more open and constructive social dialogue and labour relations affecting the organisation of work (e.g. sectoral agreements, worker involvement); calls on the Member States to develop and follow best practices;

23.  Recommends that Member States and firms should improve the provision of further training for workers, in order to anticipate tomorrow’s needs and make it possible, in the event of job losses in a given sector, for the laid-off workers’ skills to be put to good use in growth sectors;

Innovation and technology

24.  Believes technological innovation to be the essential factor in automotive-sector competitiveness; calls for a technological-neutrality approach; reaffirms its determination to ensure that the Europe 2020 targets are met and that economical and sustainable means of transport and new production methods are developed;

25.  Stresses that integrated innovation projects covering the whole value chain are crucial for improved competitiveness;

26.  Takes the view that knowledge and innovation may form the basis for a durable competitive advantage for the European automotive industry when the pace at which innovative solutions are introduced precludes the possibility of their being imitated, and when the means used to protect innovation and to combat industrial espionage will ensure that it is possible to realise a return on investment without harming consumers; believes that the areas in which an innovative advantage will be realised on the European market centre upon environmental and safety considerations;

27.  Asserts that there are two effective strategies for competitiveness in the European automotive industry: a cost leadership strategy and a differentiation strategy; feels that applying a combination of the two strategies would create difficulties and be less effective, as it would require a broader front on innovative research;

28.  Notes that the European automotive industry has achieved numerous successes through the strategy of cost leadership, thanks to popular, low‑cost models that circulate on the European market (e.g. producers such as Škoda, Dacia and Nissan);

29.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposals regarding technological improvements, but points out that its projections for the creation of added value, commercial opportunities and jobs are subject to various conditions;

30.  Considers it essential to foster research and development focusing on low-carbon and sustainable technologies, in which Europe has a lead, in order to reduce Europe’s dependence on imported energy; points out that these include electric and hybrid vehicles, alternative fuels, mobile energy storage, and the roll-out of the necessary distribution networks and infrastructures, but regrets the fact that such technologies have not yet been brought onto the market; expects action to be taken with a view to:

   gearing the technologies as closely as possible to the expectations of EU and international markets and ensuring they will be accepted by car buyers, and
   taking into account all the environmental and social externalities linked to a vehicle’s life-cycle, to how it is manufactured and to the clean-up effort it necessitates;

31.  Takes the view that for the European automotive industry to be competitive, it has to become profitable by helping to develop industries that cooperate to supply cheap inputs from within Europe, such as: steel, castings, forgings, upholstery, tyres and electronic components;

32.  Believes that EU efforts should be based on a differentiation strategy relying on a number of priorities geared towards consolidating Europe’s technological advantage, including:

   (a) technological convergence, in particular as regards standards for the stages upstream of production and distribution;
   (b) the development of eco-innovations (vehicles that are lighter, more efficient, less polluting and more easily recyclable, key-enabling technologies, batteries and energy storage, driver aids, comfort, connected cars), safety (eCall) and accessibility (uses for drivers with a disability), setting European products apart from the others;
   (c) cooperation at EU and international level in areas that have been under-exploited to date, such as power-train technology;
   (d) strengthening Europe’s leadership in international standard setting, thus ensuring that we can maintain a technological lead on world markets, taking into account the importance of international harmonisation for accessing new markets;
   (e) mechanisms, such as the procedure for measuring fuel consumption, becoming an important aspect of competitiveness for the global automotive industry on the European market, ensuring that European manufacturers are protected from unfair competition;
   (f) infrastructure roll-out for electric cars and alternative fuels;

33.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to foster the emergence of transnational clusters, competitive hubs and public-private collaborative networks focusing on the mobility of the future and generating a steady stream of innovations (prototypes);

34.  Points out that R&D requires substantial funding (scientific risk, long investment cycles) and deplores, in this connection, the fact that the target of channelling 3 % of GDP into R&D in the Union has yet to be met; considers that the cuts planned by the Member States to the budgets of the COSME and Horizon 2020 programmes will be damaging, in particular in the budget headings relating to transport;

35.  Notes that the automobile sector is a source of substantial private investment in research and innovation; points out, however, that as long as the recession continues to affect the European market, EU funding such as Horizon 2020 and COSME may stimulate private investment in the sector; stresses the need to continue to pursue an ambitious approach to the funding of the green car initiative and SME development, which are clear priorities; points out that regional and local authorities, depending on their powers, have various tools for supporting the automotive industry in an active way;

36.  Highlights the need for adequate financial resources to be provided under the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014–2020 for the restructuring of the sector and to upgrade and modernise its micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, to increase productivity and promote nationally-produced goods from the sector;


37.  Stresses the need for the principle of ‘smart regulation’, as a coherent approach with respect to legislation having an impact on the car industry, to be implemented at the earliest opportunity; points out that, although this was one of the recommendations of the first ‘CARS 21’ group (2005), no action has been taken in this area to date; stresses the vital importance of smart regulation to encourage investment in the automobile sector;

38.  Takes the view that the Commission’s proposal to place a moratorium on all new legislation that could have an adverse impact on the economic situation in the industry is contributing to the achievement of long-term competitiveness and helping to provide adequate responses to environmental challenges;

39.  Stresses the importance of reasonable lead-times to enable the industry to adapt production facilities and invest in the industrial system;

40.  Calls for any policies and decisions already in place that could hamper the sustainable transformation of the automotive industry to be reviewed; calls on the Commission to launch an ex-post assessment on adopted legislation and on the lack or bad implementation of adopted legislation;

41.  Calls on European manufacturers to uphold and reinforce current EU legislation on statutory guarantees;

42.  Takes the view that commercial guarantees for European automotive products are too short‑term and are incommensurate with their high levels of reliability, and that this puts them at a profound competitive disadvantage in relation to the commercial guarantees offered by third‑country manufacturers (e.g. Japan and South Korea);

43.  Considers it essential for technical regulations to be harmonised across the EU in order to guard against any artificial distortions of competition; stresses the need for harmonisation and improvement of test procedures that are currently resulting in significant discrepancies regarding consumption figures for certain manufacturers; asks the Commission to respond to the problem of consumers being misled by unrepresentative information on vehicles’ fuel consumption and environmental performances; supports the planned development of a new, accurate driving test cycle and procedures to reflect real driving conditions, and calls for these to be introduced without delay;

44.  Encourages European enterprises involved in producing automotive products to step up their cooperation within the single market through European standardisation, certification, unification and disposal, and also through voluntary market segmentation;

45.  Believes that there is a need to improve EU road safety significantly by taking action on vehicles, infrastructure and driver behaviour; welcomes the Commission’s eCall proposal relating to a system enabling vehicles to call emergency services automatically in the event of a serious accident;

46.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to enhance the protection of intellectual property rights at international level and introduce a business confidentiality strategy at EU level, with a view to combating counterfeiting and industrial espionage; draws attention to the fact that technological development is a sensitive and vulnerable area;

Financial resources

47.  Calls for the EU and the Member States to harmonise, optimise and bolster the use of the financial resources available to stimulate investment in sustainable mobility over and above public subsidies, by means of tax incentives for SMEs (tax credits for research, CO2 emissions tax-and-rebate schemes, vehicle scrappage schemes) and both private funding instruments (risk capital funds, ‘business angels’) and public funding instruments (European Investment Bank);

48.  Asks the Commission to make an in-depth country-comparative study of taxation applied to the automobile sector in the EU, in order to simplify and rationalise the current tax burden on production and on trade in motor vehicle-related services and reduce red tape;

49.  Considers it essential for complementarity to be maintained between the funding available for restructuring and that available for R&D; calls, accordingly, for the funding allocated to the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to be maintained at the current level;

50.  Considers it vital for competition policy (State aid rules) to be geared to securing greater competitiveness, growth and employment, in line with the approach pursued by our competitors outside the EU;

51.  Calls for a conditionality clause to be introduced, under which automotive firms in receipt of investment support for a given site would be required to keep their operations at that site until the end of the depreciation period and to refund the EU subsidies should they decide to relocate;

Internal market

52.  Points out that a robust internal market is a precondition for a return to competitiveness and sustainability in the automotive industry;

53.  Considers closer European approximation essential in areas in which the prevailing conditions militate against a level playing field:

   (a) vis-à-vis non-EU competitors: high prices for energy and raw materials, strong euro exchange rate;
   (b) on the internal market: social and fiscal competition, tax breaks for firms and incentives for buyers (low-carbon incentives, vehicle scrappage schemes);
   (c) in the EU internal market: conditions relating to the recyclability of vehicles and the ecological recycling of used cars;

54.  Stresses that suppliers in particular need to be strengthened, and that it is here that innovation potential (Car2car, car2infrastructure) and employment opportunities can be found;

55.  Deplores the fact that, on the aftermarket, legal fragmentation is currently having an adverse effect on motorists and on fair and healthy competition between Member States; with a view to enhancing employment and the purchasing power of motorists and maintaining and developing European production lines and the aftermarket industry, calls for an approximation of legislation, particularly in the spare parts sector, and for information to be provided to motorists regarding their vehicle repair entitlements; calls on the Commission to accompany this with an in-depth and comparative study of the implications of legal fragmentation for the internal market, the European manufacturing sector and the purchasing power of motorists;

56.  Calls for coordination at EU level to step up efforts to combat the import of counterfeit spare parts;

57.  Notes the need for the Member States to ensure greater transparency and compliance with the principles of good faith in commercial relations between manufacturers and dealers; takes the view that the introduction of a code of conduct for manufacturers and dealers would be a reliable way of achieving this; considers that this code should at least include clauses relating to dealer relocation, multi-branding and compensation entitlement for unjustified termination of the contract by the manufacturer in line with the supplementary guidelines contained in Commission Notice 2010/C 138/05;

58.  Calls on the Commission to take measures, in cooperation with the Member States, to ensure a high level of consumer protection, transparency and safety in the second-hand car market, and to work towards a gradual phasing-out of polluting and less safe vehicles; commends the Commission’s recommendation in the roadworthiness testing regulation to require mileage recording at each test; considers that initiatives such as the ‘Car Pass’ scheme in Belgium could be encouraged by a European Standard; notes that re-registration procedures for vehicle transfers must also discourage cross-border mileage fraud;

59.  Draws attention once again to the economic benefits for Europe to be gained from the formation of major new industrial projects, along the lines of those in the aeronautics and space industry, in order to attain the critical mass required to face up to international competition; stresses that these projects may be organised at Union level or on a voluntary basis between Member States;

60.  Underscores the importance of smart specialisation strategies to establish a framework for intra-EU competition in the same areas of activity to give way to complementary regional specialisations making the EU more competitive vis-à-vis third countries;

61.  Draws the attention of:

   (a) Member States to the alternative means of encouraging demand that are available, such as labelling schemes, targeted release of funds from employee savings schemes, tax incentives for company purchases, recycling of materials, public procurement;
   (b) firms to the various marketing tools available, such as insurance, including loan reimbursement in case of unemployment, warranty extensions, vehicle sharing, internet sales;

62.  Expresses its regret that the CARS 2020 action plan focuses primarily on European car manufacturers while ignoring the significance of the entire aftermarket sector, its actors and needs; feels that European automotive policy must be more expansive and be based on a holistic approach; asserts that the main objective should be to ensure a level playing field for all participants along the chain; takes the view, therefore, that European automotive industry policy ought also to incorporate provisions adapted for all of the actors – from major manufacturers to SMEs – in the distribution and repair chain;

External markets and trade relations

63.  Points out that the automobile industry delivers a sizeable positive contribution to the EU’s trade balance, that exports to emerging markets are clearly a necessity in order to maximise our long-term success, and that alliances with non-EU funds and firms are of key importance to the future of our firms, as are locating plants in non-EU countries (including to produce cars for the local markets) as a means of generating growth, and importing vehicles to meet demand;

64.  Welcomes the Commission’s announcement that a breakthrough has been reached in work on a free‑trade zone with the USA and Japan and on equal access to global markets, which means that all participants in the global automotive market will have to adhere strictly to the same rules; takes the view that this increases the likelihood that sustainable development and improvements in road safety will become the basis for achieving competitive advantage throughout the world;

65.  Acknowledges that a uniform international certification system which enables the inspection of vehicles and automotive parts across the single European market and which is based on EU environmental and safety standards could play a key role in eliminating unfair competition;

66.  Recognises that demand in the emerging markets will grow not only in the luxury category but also in the lower segments, and that the European industry will be more competitive in these segments;

67.  Points out that many of our automotive firms are becoming less competitive as a result of growing competition – some of it unfair – from non-EU firms; stresses that many of them have the potential to become successful if they are allowed to meet the growing demand on new export markets; urges the Commission to reorganise its trade policy, so as to be able to:

   (a) coordinate Member State measures for promoting EU firms and protecting EU products, investment and intellectual property rights outside the EU;
   (b) centralise all EU export instruments, in particular those geared to SMEs (Small Business, Big World), e.g. through the creation of a comprehensive, accessible and sectoral digital platform;
   (c) gradually make the principle of reciprocity – to which the Commission pays too little attention in CARS 2020 – a central tenet of our trade relations;
   (d) push for the dismantling of non-tariff barriers in the automotive sector;
   (e) shorten the time taken to instigate investigations and apply trade defence instruments;

68.  Asks the Commission to extend its ex ante impact assessments on future trade agreements to the notion of competitiveness in the automobile sector, carry out fresh studies following their entry into force, and regularly assess the cumulative impact of agreements, both those currently in force and those subject to ongoing negotiations, based on specific and defined criteria, including the way in which stakeholders are involved;

69.  Resolves to provide itself with the necessary means to gauge for itself the impact of each FTA;

o   o

70.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.


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