A European economic patriotism


Chief Executive, Confrontations Europe

Confronted with digital transformation, Europe has many assets, but is getting behind as regards the US and China.

There are several concerns with which we should deal:

  • Europe is insufficiently represented in the platforms industry. Yet, they intervene in strategic places of value chains. Hence a risk of dependency.
  • Competition with industrial giants led by the Chinese State will have massive consequences for Europe, not only economically, but politically.
  • The European industry is getting ready too slowly for this paradigm change, including the German car industry, the Mittelstand (Joost van Iersel, EESC).

So, what should be done to ensure that our industries, our jobs stay or are created in Europe and in France?

More than slogans, « America first » and « China first » are daily realities. But in Europe, we have, at best, « Germany first”, “Italy first”, “France first”. At best, … or at worse, because we are competitors among ourselves Europeans, whereas it is collectively that we will be able to conduct the fight for our future.

But can Europe, that is the European Union and the Member States, act?

Yes, European industrial policy is a shared competency. There is an urgency to ensure European autonomy to guarantee our European values. We need to mobilize private and public savings to massively invest in artificial intelligence, Big Data, and skills. We will have to recognize that we need to isolate public funds from budget deficit.

OK, but can competition policy serve a European economic patriotism?

First, to give priority to the « Made in Europe » and to European jobs, we can’t be against State aids, especially to nascent industries: China is not a market economy, and we need to develop a European battery industry for instance.

Then, competition policy must authorize business consolidations at European level, because the game is global, rather than organizing a competition among Europeans. We must stop with sterile national rivalries of reticent Nation States towards mergers and acquisitions of “national champions” by other European players. We need to take advantage of a vast domestic European market, as do American and Chinese giants.

We will have of course to implement a just framework on fiscal, social, environmental, digital matters at European and international level, but this will be for another Chronicle!

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