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Wednesday, 5 October 2016 - Strasbourg
Need for a European reindustrialisation policy in light of the recent Caterpillar and Alstom cases

European Parliament resolution of 5 October 2016 on the need for a European reindustrialisation policy in light of the recent Caterpillar and Alstom cases (2016/2891(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 9, 151, 152, 153(1) and (2), and 173 thereof,

–  having regard to Articles 14, 27 and 30 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies(1),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and in particular to Article 5(3) TEU and to Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 31 March 2005 entitled ‘Restructuring and employment: Anticipating and accompanying restructuring in order to develop employment: the role of the European Union’ (COM(2005)0120), and the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 14 December 2005,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 November 2010 entitled ‘An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs: A European contribution towards full employment’ (COM(2010)0682),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on information and consultation of workers, anticipation and management of restructuring(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 December 2013 on an EU Quality Framework for anticipation of change and restructuring (COM(2013)0882),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on reindustrialising Europe to promote competitiveness and sustainability(4),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 18 April 2012 entitled ‘Exploiting the employment potential of green growth’ (SWD(2012)0092),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 January 2014 entitled ‘For a European industrial renaissance’ (COM(2014)0014),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2015 entitled ‘Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2012 entitled ‘A stronger European industry for growth and economic recovery’ (COM(2012)0582), and to the 20 % reindustrialisation target,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2015 on developing a sustainable European industry of base metals(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2016 on the competitiveness of the European rail supply industry(6),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas today there is an absolute need for consistency between the various EU policies in order to define an actual industrial policy, in particular in the light of the Caterpillar and Alstom cases;

B.  whereas on 2 September 2016 Caterpillar announced a large worldwide restructuring plan; whereas as part of this plan the Gosselies site was forced to close its doors, leading to the laying off of 2 500 direct workers and jeopardising the jobs of some 4 000 subcontractors;

C.  whereas the reduction in production costs between 2013 and 2015 had allowed the plant’s products to become more attractive than the products coming from outside the EU; whereas, however, Caterpillar decided to close the plant in order to move production to other plants with lower standards of social and environmental protection than those applicable to European industry;

D.  whereas given the importance and the European dimension of this case, the Commission has decided to set up a task force gathering together the competent services, to act as interlocutor in the Caterpillar closure process;

E.  whereas these two production plants are not the only ones to be concerned by restructuring; other layoffs are expected in Alstom’s plants in Spain and Italy and also Caterpillar’s plant in Northern Ireland;

F.  whereas the rail industry is the backbone of European industrialisation, with its history dating back more than 175 years; whereas the annual growth rate of the accessible rail supply industry markets is expected to be 2,8 % until 2019; whereas the European rail supply industry directly employs 400 000 people throughout the EU, many of whom work in SMEs; whereas a strong and innovative European rail supply industry is essential for a shift to rail, which is necessary to achieve the EU’s climate and energy targets;

G.  whereas 65 % of business spending on R&D is by the manufacturing industry, and whereas the strengthening of our industrial base is therefore essential to keeping expertise and know-how in the EU; whereas digital development, a priority of the Juncker plan, needs a strong industrial base to materialise;

H.  whereas European industry such as that provided by Alstom and Caterpillar has a high added value with recognised expertise; whereas, at present, this central and strategic industry for the EU faces a world of strong global competition from countries which export lower-cost products to the European market by carrying out an aggressive and rapidly expanding policy on all continents, often with political and financial support from their governments;

I.  whereas, in the light of the recent Alstom case, the Commission will carry out a 15-year prospective study (2030) on the development of the rail industry in Europe, integrating different scenarios on the environmental objectives of the EU Member States, together with a study on the impact on jobs, professions and skills of the different scenarios; whereas the Commission needs to follow up rapidly on the recommendations set out in Parliament’s resolution on the EU rail supply industry in order to provide secure and sustainable jobs and inclusive growth; whereas any follow-up should be facilitated by a permanent dialogue with stakeholders and incorporate all chapters of the resolution;

J.  whereas the Commission committed to produce in 2013 a full report on the application of the Quality Framework; recalling in this context its request to the Commission to submit, after consulting the relevant social partners, a proposal for a legal act on information and consultation of workers, anticipation and management of restructuring;

K.  whereas European industry needs to maintain its competitiveness and capacity to invest in Europe, and whereas it also faces social and environmental challenges which it must address, whilst remaining a world reference in terms of social and environmental responsibility;

L.  whereas some undertakings have been pursuing strategies focused solely on short-term financial returns, which tend to be to the detriment of innovation, investment in R&D, employment and skill renewal;

M.  whereas an ambitious innovation policy which favours the production of high-quality, innovative, energy-efficient products and promotes sustainable processes will allow the EU to stand on its own in an ever more competitive world context;

N.  whereas trade in construction machinery in the EU has suffered serious disruptions in recent years, linked to the reduction of public and private investment but also due to the increase in production costs stemming from the increase in the prices of raw materials;

O.  whereas fair trade in industrial products must respect workers’ rights and environmental rules; whereas investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency are a major driver for investment in industrial products capable of creating virtuous circles; whereas innovation and investment in R&D, jobs and skill renewal are essential for sustainable growth;

P.  whereas innovation in production has been shown to have a positive effect on job growth at all stages of the industrial economic cycle; whereas workers’ participation in innovation measures and in the definition of strategies can significantly enhance economic success;

Q.  whereas the more advanced and sustainable part of the steel sector, which produces high-value technological products, respects the health of workers and surrounding populations and guarantees strict environmental standards, plays an important role for the European industrial strategy;

R.  whereas the loss of know-how and skills of the workers, underlines that Europe must retain the industrial capacity to meet its needs, without depending on third countries’ producers;

1.  Expresses its strong solidarity and support to all workers of Caterpillar and Alstom and their families, as well as to the subcontractors involved, and regrets the detrimental effects that such closures have on local economies and communities; calls for measures to be taken to support these workers and their local economies and to assist the regions in overcoming this difficult economic and social situation;

2.  Is convinced that European industry should be seen as a strategic asset for the competitiveness and sustainability of the EU; underlines that only a strong and resilient industry and a future-oriented industrial policy will allow the EU to face the different challenges ahead, including its reindustrialisation, its transition to sustainability and the creation of quality employment; stresses that the Commission and the Member States need to better anticipate these socio-economic situations and ensure the competitiveness of our industrial network;

3.  Recalls that Europe is a social market economy that aims at achieving sustainable economic and inclusive growth; regrets the lack of a real EU industrial policy which also protects EU workers; calls on the Commission therefore to set up a real European industrial long-term strategy in order to reach the objective of 20 % of gross domestic product coming from industry, as laid down in the Europe 2020 strategy;

4.  Urges the Member States to ensure adequate social protection, working conditions and wages that allow people to live with dignity, either by means of law or collective agreements, and in the case of the laying off of workers, to ensure effective protection against unlawful dismissal;

5.  Reminds that the economic crisis in Europe has demonstrated that industries that invest the most notably in innovation, R&D, energy efficiency, circular economy etc. are those who resist the most; underlines in this context the negative impact of the decrease of public and private investments and shrinking internal consumption, both of which should be encouraged in order to be growth stimulators;

6.  Believes that the reduction of administrative burdens and compliance costs for businesses, and the repeal of unnecessary legislation while continuing to ensure high standards of consumer, employee, health and environmental protection, must be key components of any EU reindustrialisation policy;

7.  Calls for this EU industrial policy to be based on clear targets and indicators – including ambitious energy-efficiency, resource and climate objectives – and a life-cycle and circular economy approach; stresses that it should include a smart mix of supply- and demand-side measures aimed at re-localising the economy in the EU and making it more resilient and less resource-dependent; points out that it should steer investment into creativity, skills, innovation and sustainable technologies and promote the modernisation of Europe’s industrial base through a value-chain-conscious policy that includes the basic industries and their regional and local actors; believes that such an approach could deliver cost-efficient benefits for European industry and the European economy as a whole;

8.  Points out that many years of intervention in support of banks and asset markets in the EU did not have an impact on jobs or improve economic prospects; believes that public intervention should be shifted from over-stimulating the supply side to concerted policies aimed at stimulating demand, including through fiscal measures and by ensuring wage increases;

Trade policy – a key element for a level playing field

9.  Stresses that while in several sectors of the economy the EU is largely open to competitors from third countries, third countries have several barriers in place that discriminate against European companies; stresses that third-country competitors, especially from China, are expanding rapidly and aggressively into Europe and other world regions, often with strong political and financial support from their country of origin; stresses that such practices may constitute unfair competition and threaten jobs in Europe; underlines that China does not fulfil the five criteria established by the EU to define market economy status;

10.  Urges the Commission to establish an EU trade policy which is in line with its industrial objectives and takes account of the need to secure European industrial jobs and avoid fresh relocations and further deindustrialisation; calls on the Commission to ensure a level playing field for market operators from inside and outside Europe, thus guaranteeing fair competition for all;

11.  Recalls the need to reach a swift agreement on the revision of the regulations on trade defence instruments, in order to strengthen them significantly by improving their reactivity and effectiveness; asks the Commission to take into consideration the social and economic impacts which the recognition of market economy status for state-run or other non-market economies could have on the competitiveness of EU industries;

12.  Stresses the need to prevent EU trade policy from fostering anti-competitive practices, including environmental dumping and in particular the dumping of cheap and low-quality products that put European standards at risk and affect EU-based industries; calls on the Commission to look into border adjustment mechanisms in order to guarantee a level playing field when devising policies to achieve the Europe 2020 strategy and as a means to avoid environmental dumping, exploitation of workers and unfair competition;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to conduct studies on commercial negotiations, using a regional- and sector-based approach, which should also improve understanding of the impact on employment and European industries;

14.  Highlights the recent trend of companies returning production and services to Europe and the opportunities this brings for growth and job creation; calls on the Commission to consider how the EU can create a hospitable environment to help businesses take advantage of the opportunities offered by this ‘re-shoring’;

Competition policy – a crucial element for EU industries

15.  Asks the Commission to develop an outward-looking competitive European framework to attract and maintain private investment, maintain strong EU value chains and create quality employment, in order to deliver tangible benefits for EU citizens;

16.  Notes also that state aid rules must be better tailored in order to deliver innovation and sustainability and fulfil the objectives of promoting a high level of employment and fostering social policies in accordance with Article 9 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

17.  Stresses that European industry faces global competition, and therefore strongly encourages the Commission to urgently take the world market as the reference when defining geographical markets in its analysis, and not to limit its analysis to national markets or the internal market, thus allowing European industries to create R&D partnerships or strategic alliances; calls, in this context, for the restructuring of the major European manufacturers to be enabled in order to allow the emergence of players with sufficient critical mass to cope with international competition;

Public procurement – a tool in need of improvement

18.  Calls on the Commission to better implement the EU regulations on public procurement; recalls that EU provisions allow for tenders which are abnormally low or where more than 50 % of the value is realised outside the EU to be rejected;

19.  Believes that public procurement and eco-labelling have a role to play in the uptake of sustainable products, services and innovations and for a sound industrial base in Europe; asks for a concerted effort by Member States and the Commission to ensure that contracting authorities base their tendering decisions on the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ principle;

Improved use of EU funds, R&D and innovation – the way to foster a new industrial policy

20.  Calls on the Commission to develop, together with the Member States, a Union strategy for consistent and comprehensive industrial policy aimed at Europe’s reindustrialisation, and based inter alia on digitalisation (in particular the integration of smart technologies and robotics into industrial value chains), sustainability, energy efficiency and adequate resources; to this end, calls for increased cooperation and convergence among Member States in fiscal, social and budget matters so as to facilitate the emergence of joint industrial projects; believes that the European regulatory framework should allow industries to adapt to the changes concerned and to take anticipatory action in order to contribute to job creation, growth and regional convergence;

21.  Exhorts the Commission to work with the different industrial sectors in order to ensure the best possible use of European structural and investment funds, and more precisely of the Regional Development Fund (RDF), to support R&D projects at regional level;

22.  Believes that EU funds offer a great opportunity to finance sustainable investment in energy and public transport infrastructure and smart deployment of information and communications technologies; calls for improvement in the implementation of the various criteria, in particular as regards employment, environmental and social criteria, for the use of EU funds and all financial instruments managed through the EIB;

23.  Calls for an EU smart specialisation agenda and for prioritising R&D in those sectors where the EU can lead; calls for concrete instruments for enabling the EU and Member States to pool R&D efforts and to enable the uptake of the results in the local economy; considers the link between research and industry to be crucial for boosting EU industrial competitiveness; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Member States to actively promote and encourage the intensification of collaboration between research centres, universities and businesses; calls for improvements to the research environment through an increase in the RD&I budget and the better interlinking of different EU and national funding programmes;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the European Investment Bank to particularly target those regions that have been most affected by deindustrialisation and to accelerate support for projects in these regions as a matter of urgency, while ensuring that viable and high-quality projects are supported; believes that the potential for increasing strategic and targeted lending by the European Investment Bank for innovation and industrial transformation projects, notably in manufacturing and related services, should be further explored; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure better access to finance for EU businesses, in particular for micro-enterprises and SMEs, thus enhancing their capacities for project building, and to provide them with better advisory services and technical support;

25.  Asks the Commission, in coordination with the Member States, to study ways in which economic redeployment could be allowed while ensuring that companies fully assume their environmental responsibility, respect environmental law and implement high environmental standards; demands that companies depollute the closed sites within a reasonable time frame and facilitate ways for local authorities to recover them;

26.  Calls on the Commission to consider facilitating the exchange of best practices between Member States on how best to deal with the closure of companies, encouraging them to look into examples contained in legal provisions in order to try – as far as feasible – to organise the search for a buyer or the sale of the site in order to keep factories in production despite the cessation of activity decided on by the original owners;

27.  Believes that tax avoidance, including through the transfer of tangible and intangible assets or services between companies at inadequate prices (transfer price), should be prevented and is also a result of the lack of European coordination in fiscal and commercial matters; calls for increased cooperation and convergence among Member States in fiscal, social and budgetary matters;

Socially responsible restructuring and quality employment creation in future-oriented sectors

28.  Welcomes the initiative of some local authorities, together with the social partners, such as in the case of Alstom, to foster experimental projects for workers and companies in the process of restructuring, in order to secure professional careers through training and actions so as to maintain quality employment;

29.  Stresses the crucial need for the development of technical skills, particularly in the manufacturing sector; stresses the need to promote the importance of skilled technical workers; believes that, in order to maximise the net job potential of the green economy, it is crucial that the existing workforce is provided with proper opportunities to acquire the new skills needed for the circular economy; recalls that a skilled workforce is important for the viability of production; underlines the importance of fostering better synergies between education systems, universities and the labour market, including exposure to the workplace and cooperation with businesses in the creation of innovative ‘clusters’;

30.  Calls on all relevant authorities to ensure that all parties involved comply fully with national and European regulations on information and consultation of workers, especially during restructuring, and also to guarantee environmental protection and workplace safety;

31.  Stresses that companies must fulfil their legal obligations under European and national law, prioritising the information and consultation of workers and the opportunity to review alternatives put forward by the social partners;

32.  Considers that any restructuring operation should be explained and justified to stakeholders, where appropriate, including with respect to the choice of measures envisaged in relation to the objectives and any alternatives; calls for a local dialogue comprising all stakeholders to discuss the best possible arrangements in cases of restructuring;

33.  Underlines the importance of a sustained social dialogue, at all levels, based on mutual trust and shared responsibilities, as one of the best instruments for finding consensual solutions and common perspectives in the prediction, prevention and management of the restructuring process;

34.  Highlights, in the case of restructuring, the need to protect the workers affected, in terms of their health and working conditions, social security, requalification and reintegration into the labour market;

35.  Notes that restructuring has a much broader impact than just on the company itself, with unforeseen effects on communities and on the economic and social fabric of the Member States;

36.  Calls on the Commission to consult social partners on the effectiveness of legislation on collective dismissals in the light of the Caterpillar and Alstom cases;

37.  Regrets the gradual financialisation of the real economy, focused on a short-term financial outlook rather than maintaining an innovative industrial tool that can provide sustainable and quality jobs and long-term benefits to society; regrets that this approach has led to numerous job losses in the manufacturing sector; calls on the Commission to consult the social partners on the opportunity for a revision of the existing legislation regarding collective dismissals, taking into account those aspects linked to the Caterpillar and Alstom cases, and particularly the involvement in the procedure of all workers and subcontractors, and effective measures to avoid unlawful collective dismissals that are not based on real economic reasons, including the possibility of sanctions - for example, suspending access to EU-funded programmes or demanding the repayment of public aid granted;

38.  Calls on the Commission’s taskforce to investigate the way in which the consultation procedure with the European Works Council (EWC) has been carried out; calls on the Commission, in the light of the investigation, to consider the need to revise the EWC Directive;

39.  Notes that the EGF is an essential EU tool in the era of globalisation for supporting Member States in their policies of professional requalification of workers and for re-establishing the economic fabric in a region regarding workers who are suffering the negative effects of globalisation or economic crisis; recalls the importance of the recommendations made by Parliament in its resolution of 15 September 2016 on the activities, impact and added value of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund between 2007 and 2014(7);

40.  Stresses, however, that the EGF is a tool that reacts only when the redundancies have taken place, and that greater efforts are required on the part of Member States and the EU to create the right economic and legislative environment in order to boost competitiveness and create long-term sustainable jobs;

41.  Calls on the Commission to inform Parliament on its strategy for the main industrial sectors in Europe, namely the rail supply sector and the machinery sector, in order to create a more favourable market environment, and of what it intends to do to keep quality employment, know-how and investments in Europe;

42.  Notes that in cases of restructuring, younger and older workers are more often targeted for redundancy than other age groups; stresses that in the event of redundancies employers must respect anti-discrimination legislation, particularly in the field of age discrimination;

43.  Notes that the transition to a green economy has significant potential to create local jobs which cannot be relocated, and in areas which cannot be offshored; notes that there is strong evidence that the green transition will, on balance, have a positive impact on employment, reflecting the fact that sustainable economic activities, such as saving energy, are more labour-intensive than the activities they replace and could have the potential to enable regions to become more self-sufficient;

o   o

44.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council.

(1) OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, p. 16.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(3) OJ C 440, 30.12.2015, p. 23.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0032.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0460.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0280.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0361.

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