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PV 24/03/2009 - 11
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Wednesday, 25 March 2009 - Strasbourg
Future of the automotive industry

European Parliament resolution of 25 March 2009 on the future of the automotive industry

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000,

–   having regard to the Communication of President Barroso of 2 February 2005 entitled Working together for growth and jobs – A new start for the Lisbon Strategy" (COM(2005)0024),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the final report of CARS 21 High-Level Group of 12 December 2005 and the CARS 21 Mid-Term Review High-Level Conference conclusions of 29 October 2008,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2008 on CARS 21: A Competitive Automotive Regulatory Framework(1),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council of 15 and 16 October 2008,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 29 October 2008 entitled From financial crisis to recovery: A European framework for action (COM(2008)0706),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 26 November 2008 entitled A European Economic Recovery Plan (COM(2008)0800),

–   having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 17 December 2008 with a view to the adoption of Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles(2),

–   having regard to the Council and Commission statements of 4 February 2009 on the impact of the financial crisis on the car industry,

–   having regard to the Competitiveness Council conclusions of 5 and 6 March 2009 on the automotive industry,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 25 February 2009 entitled Responding to the crisis in the European automotive industry (COM(2009)0104),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the meeting of the European Ministers for Industry with the Vice-President of the Commission, Mr Günter Verheugen, on the situation in the automotive sector, held in Brussels on 16 January 2009,

–   having regard to the statistics published on 29 January 2009 by the Association of European car manufacturers on vehicle sales in 2008,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Europe is facing an exceptional and deep financial and economic crisis and high rates of unemployment, with the loss of thousands of jobs in all the relevant industrial sectors,

B.   whereas the European financial market is currently not functioning properly, notably with regard to its lending activities,

C.   whereas the European automotive industry and its supply chain industry are particularly hit by the impact of the current crisis, being a key sector of the European economy contributing to employment, innovation and the competitiveness of the whole economy,

D.   whereas in the European Union the automotive sector has a structural overcapacity, and whereas 2009 is expected to witness a further significant drop in vehicle demand and consequent drop in production, inevitably raising pressure on employment and investment levels in the European Union,

E.   whereas the European automotive sector is the largest private investor in research and development (R&D) in the European Union, and European passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturers must sustain high levels of investment in the light of regulatory and market requirements, in particular with regard to ensuring the transition to a low-emission fleet,

F.   whereas the legislative packages on renewable energy and climate change, adopted in December 2008, will play a fundamental role in encouraging green investments aimed at energy savings in the automotive industry,

G.   whereas the European automotive industry employs 12 million workers directly and indirectly, that is 6 % of the employed population in the European Union, and millions of those jobs are today at risk, many of which are highly skilled-jobs which should not be lost,

H.   whereas there is significant potential for job creation through greener technologies in the automotive sector,

I.   whereas the European automotive industry is key to the EU economy because of its multiplier effect for other sectors and industries, and in particular the existence of hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),

J.   whereas some Member States have started to adopt national measures to support the automotive industry,

K.   whereas primary responsibility for dealing with the crisis lies with the industry,

L.   whereas the Commission is currently negotiating further trade liberalisation in the framework of the Doha Round and a free trade agreement with South Korea,

1.  Recognises that the automotive industry has been put under intense pressure by the current economic and financial crisis, reflected in particular in a severe fall in demand for motor vehicles but also in its production overcapacity, difficulties in accessing credit financing and structural problems predating the crisis;

2.  Underlines that the crisis is on a European level; draws attention, therefore, to the importance of coherent and coordinated initiatives between Member States for the European automotive industry, and calls for a genuine European framework for action providing concrete steps to enable the necessary decisive measures to be taken both at EU and Member State levels;

3.  Notes with increasing concern that some short-term measures adopted at national level by Member States could contribute to the distortion of competition within the single market, damaging long-term competitiveness, and calls therefore on Member States to ensure that further measures are coherent, efficient and coordinated;

4.  Welcomes in this context the temporary framework for State aid assessment established as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan;

5.  Welcomes the Commission's efforts to provide an effective political response to the difficulties of General Motors Europe and its suppliers by coordinating the efforts of the Member States concerned, including the organisation of the ministerial meeting held on 13 March 2009 and the search for an equitable and fair solution to the issue of intellectual property rights;

6.  Calls on the Council and Commission to accelerate, simplify and increase financial support for the automotive industry, notably through the European Investment Bank (EIB), and by allowing State guarantees for low-interest loans; urges the Council and Commission to ask for a simplification of the administrative procedure for loan applications; considers that this financial support, notably via loans, should help to stimulate demand for new vehicles, to the benefit of economic growth, the environment and road safety;

7.  Insists that the EIB give sufficient attention to the SMEs connected to the automotive sector so that they maintain access to credit and urges Member States to increase the EIB's lending capacity in order to match the mid-term financial needs of the automotive industry;

8.  Insists that all financial or fiscal measures, including scrapping schemes, must support and accelerate the necessary technological transformation of the sector, particularly in the area of energy efficiency of engines and the reduction of emissions, in full compliance with recently adopted legislation;

9.  Reaffirms that policies, both at EU and national levels, should contribute to tackling the restructuring and reconversion phase that the automotive industry and its supply chain industry are facing, due to a very competitive business environment, and calls on the industry to develop a coherent business strategy and to implement such adjustments in a socially responsible way, in close cooperation with trade unions;

10.  Underlines the need to fully include trade unions in the discussions in progress and asks the Commission to support a real European social dialogue for this industry, especially within the context of the current crises;

11.  Asks the Commission to ensure best use of the European Funds available in support of jobs, such as the Cohesion Fund, Structural Funds, Social Fund and Globalisation Adjustment Fund, within the context of the balanced implementation of all the 'Lisbon priorities' and to facilitate, improve and speed up access to such Funds; considers that those Funds should contribute to training and retraining schemes for workers at an early stage, wherever and whenever working-time restrictions are to be applied;

12.  Reaffirms that the automotive industry needs continuous investment in R&D programmes delivering the best possible solutions for quality, safety and environmental performance to achieve a sustainable competitive framework, and therefore invites the Commission in that context to facilitate, improve and speed up the access to EU support instruments for R&D and innovation, such as the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development;

13.  Calls on the Commission to draw up guidelines and recommendations for measures encouraging a coordinated approach to fleet renewal, such as scrapping schemes and other market incentives, having positive and short-term effects on consumer demand for new motor vehicles and aimed at reinvigorating the automotive leasing market; calls on the Commission to monitor national measures already implemented in this context to avoid distortions on the internal market;

14.  Confirms the need to deepen the dialogue and on-going discussions with third countries and the main EU trading partners on the future of the automotive sector, and calls therefore on the Commission to monitor closely developments in non-EU countries, notably in the United States and Asia, to guarantee a level playing-field at international level, refraining from protectionism and discriminatory measures in the global automotive market;

15.  Calls on the Commission to secure a balanced and fair deal between the European Union and South Korea before the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement;

16.  Welcomes the CARS 21 process, which sets out a long-term industrial policy at European level; calls on the Commission to continually implement, monitor and review this long-term strategy plan with a view to ensuring the future competitiveness of and sustainable employment in the European automotive industry;

17.  Calls on the Commission to fully apply better regulation principles and therefore to carry out a thorough assessment of the impact of future Community legislation on motor vehicles, in line with the recommendations of CARS 21, thus ensuring legal certainty and predictability in the automotive sector;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 41 E, 19.2.2009, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0614.

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