DIGITALEUROPE’s guiding points on the work of the Commission’s Industrial Forum
The European Commission’s Industrial Forum can drive the creation of long-waited industrial policy governance at European level. With a multi-year mandate and commitment at a high political level, this Group can turn the goals of the updated Industrial Strategy into practice.
Earlier platforms such as the Strategic Forum for IPCEIs and the Industry 2030 High-Level Industrial Roundtable provided useful policy context to the EU’s industrial goals. It is now absolutely imperative the Industrial Forum does not end up replicating their work.
Rather, the Industrial Forum should build on their conclusions and move to the next stage of implementing the green and digital transition. This is key to look back at the Forum in 2024 and call it a success.
With our vast, active network of national trade associations members and expertise on the digitalisation of large European verticals, we can play a pivotal role in the creation of a solid public-private partnership to implement Europe’s industrial plan. DIGITALEUROPE stands ready to take the lead in the Industrial Forum and turn this vision into reality.
Priorities of the Industrial Forum
We strongly believe the Industrial Forum’s Work Plan should prioritise two elements:
Development of investment use cases per ecosystem
Industrial Forum members should cooperate to create, ecosystem by ecosystem, compelling examples of the measurable benefits, key performance indicators (KPIs), payback time and underlying foundations of specific digital and green technologies.
We are living through a historical moment where unprecedented investments are being earmarked for the sake of all Europeans. These use cases will help both Member States in their implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Funds as well as the Commission in advancing its multi-country projects announced in the 2030 Digital Compass.
As an example, we created a use case quantifying the return of a single, unified water operating centre for a standard water utility.
Other possible examples could include:
Renewable Energy Ecosystem: deployment of cloud-based IoT energy management system for offshore wind turbines
Health Ecosystem: AI-enabled clinical lab automation in drug testing
Construction Ecosystem: digital twin for energy-efficient building design
Identification of horizontal digital measures to fast-track
Confining the role of digital to a single ecosystem, as it appears to be the case, risks to run counter to the EU’s ambitions for a digital transition of its whole economy.
We urge the Commission to acknowledge that many ecosystems share the same technology vision. Digital is at the centre of it.
As part of the Forum’s Work Plan, the Commission should establish two horizontal Working Groups to support this vision and bust any siloed thinking on the ecosystems:
Digital Infrastructure Working Group: it should recommend to Commission and Council short- and mid-term priority measures to accelerate digital resilience across all the ecosystems in an open economy. Technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud, 5G, cybersecurity should be in focus. Importantly, the WG should continue to uphold the relevance of the existing sector-specific regulatory approach to many areas.
Data Working Group: it should draw lessons from the implementation of data-related initiatives across Member States in an industrial context, pointing to common success elements and challenges in several Ecosystems. It should also be used as an informal sounding board for existing and upcoming data-related initiatives advanced by the Commission. By bringing together Commission experts, Member State representatives and relevant industry bodies, this WG would offer real added value in addressing existing data (re)use barriers across the EU and recommending technical and policy solutions for the Ecosystems as well as the future Common European Data Spaces.
How to achieve these priorities
Our expertise makes us well-positioned to lead Europe’s digital transition in the Industrial Forum and turn this vision for digital into reality. Europe needs a real public-private partnership to advance an industrial plan for a post-COVID-19 society and economy. We strongly believe DIGITALEUROPE can play a pivotal role to enable it. Two considerations stand out.
First, our membership is geographically broad and highly engaged in national industrial policy discussions, covering 39 national trade association all over Europe. This gives us a nuanced understanding of the various needs and challenges of different national governments in the implementation of industrial strategy goals. It strengthens the legitimacy of our views before Commission and Council’s experts in the Forum. It would be extremely useful in advancing the objectives of the Digital Infrastructure Working Group and Data Working Group proposed above.
Second, our membership covers players from some of the largest verticals, which will play a crucial role in Europe’s recovery. It includes manufacturing, where our Digital Manufacturing Executive Council (DMEC) brings together senior executives from both industrial production and ICT firms to advise on digital-driven innovation and sustainability, but also health, mobility and finance. This exposure to digitally transforming sectors would be a unique asset in the Forum and can truly drive the creation of compelling digital investment cases across different ecosystems.