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CECIMO is the European association for the machine tool industry and represents around 1,500 European companies of which over 80% are SMEs. It claims to cover more than 97% of machine tool production in Europe and more than one third worldwide.
During its recent general assembly meeting, which took place in Ghent, Belgium in early June, the economic committee confirmed that:
The €21 billion figure in 2011 is approximately 15% lower than in the record year of 2008 but CECIMO exports at €16.5 billion in 2011 nearly reached the all-time high level enjoyed in 2008. Imports and apparent consumption, which reflect the sentiment in the European market, were well below 2008 values despite strong increases in 2011 compared to 2010.
“The European machine tool industry has been developed over many generations and with its knowledge-intensive, skilled workforce is the backbone of the modern European economy,” commented CECIMO president, Martin Kapp. “Our overseas competitors recognise the advantages of having an industry which is at the core of the next industrial revolution and are pursuing proactive policies in order to reinforce their position or acquire the necessary know-how.
“Europe lacks a clear strategy for its manufacturing industries,” he continued. “The deindustrialisation of Europe coupled with rising protectionism from emerging countries poses serious risks for Europe regarding the security of supply in strategic areas.
“We need a clear vision supported by targeted policies. The current approach based on fragmented and selective action is proving to be both costly and inefficient.”
CECIMO welcomes the ambitious EU market access strategy but believes that while the trade policy is helpful in backing industrial policy efforts, it has limitations. The slow pace of bilateral trade negotiations and the inability of the EU to facilitate trade with key export markets are illustrative of this. This situation provides additional arguments for European decision makers to revise the industrial strategy and develop domestic industrial policy measures which will help boost the competitiveness of European manufacturers in global markets. Action is particularly essential in the areas of SME policy, innovation and skills.
CECIMO observes that the austerity crisis in the Eurozone is adding to the severity of the situation both in Europe and worldwide with the half measures dictated by political agendas only postponing the real solution to the problems. As a result, the access to finance has dried up and is currently seriously hampering business and investments in many European countries, despite a real demand from customers.
“We strongly urge politicians to take decisive steps and address the problems which ultimately have their roots dating back to the crisis of 2008 and 2009,” Mr Kapp concluded.