We need to focus on the European rail supply industry leadership

”The European Commission adopted the Resolution on the competitiveness of the European rail supply industry in order to put this market on the spotlight togheter with its main advantages growth and innovation”, MEP Martina Werner (ITRE Committee Rapporteur for the Resolution) said, in a video message, to the audience at the Railway PRO Investment Summit – ”Railway business opportunities in the single European transport market”, organised at Bucharest by Club Feroviar and Railway PRO, with the support of the Romanian Railway Industry Association (AIF).

Thus, we have established the pillars for the Industry European Commissioner to further support the European railway industry.
”If we want to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the rail supply industry, we need to think more European. This concerns all actors: companies, operators, politicians. We should concentrate on investments in sustainable and interoperable technologies as well as in rail infrastructure and on cooperation of stakeholders, where cooperation has an added value”, Martina Werner added.
She continued by saying that ”we need to rapidly focus on the implementation of the Shift2Rail technological innitiative and we also need the second Shift2Rail innitiative, which is soon to be launched”.
The specific nature and strategic relevance of the European rail supply industry for a European industrial renaissance asks the Commission to fully mobilise the various EU funding instruments, to explore and exploit additional sources of financing for Shift2Rail (S2R) and to seek for synergies between different EU funds and with private investments; in this context calls on the Commission to exploit additional EU funding instruments for rail technology outside of S2R  dedicated rail research calls in Horizon 2020 outside of S2R, InnovFin, CEF, Structural Funds, EFSI), including via an S2R pilot scheme that matches EU funding with structural and other EU innovation funds.
The Resolution stresses that clusters are an important tool for bringing together relevant stakeholders at local and regional level, including public authorities, universities, research institutes, the RSI, the social partners and other mobility industries; calls on the Commission to come up with a Cluster Strategy for Growth by December 2016; asks the Commission and the Member States to increase their support for innovation projects developed by rail clusters and other initiatives that bring together RSI SMEs, larger companies and research institutes at local, regional, national and European level; observes that there will need to be scope for public financing of clustering; notes in this connection the possibilities afforded by new financing instruments (as EFSI).
The Resolution contains many specific and important recommendations, which collectively cover virtually every field within industrial policy: research and innovation, digitalisation, skills, public procurement, international trade, development of new markets, access to foreign markets, strengthening supply chains through the creation of clusters and the need for innovative public-private partnerships. It will increase the visibility of the sector and contribute to the political awareness of its challenges and opportunities.
UNIFE Director General, Philippe Citroën, remarked, “As this well-timed Resolution aptly points out, European rail supply manufacturers are under significant competitive pressure from emerging Asian industrial giants on global and now even on European markets. Meanwhile, these new competitors’ home markets continue to become less and less accessible to European companies, putting this job-creating, innovative and export-oriented European industry at a significant competitive disadvantage.”
“In particular, the Resolution aims to foster a level playing field on the global market for rail equipment and acknowledges the fierce competition coming from Asia: “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…such practices may constitute unfair competition which threatens jobs in Europe” UNIFE believes.
The European rail supply industry (RSI) accounts for roughly 46% of the world’s total RSI market. European RSI is known to employ approximately 400,000 employees, and the European railway sector overall is cumulatively responsible for more than 1 million direct and 1.2 million indirect jobs through EU member states.

by Elena Ilie

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