Inside Orgalim’s Presidents’ Board – In Conversation with Orgalim’s President and Vice-President
18 May 2021
Orgalim's Presidents' Board brings together the technology industries’ national associations in Europe at the highest level, to exchange and engage on key issues of strategic interest to our industries at both the national and European level. We sat down with Orgalim President, Rada Rodriguez, CEO of Signify GmbH, and Vice President, Christophe Lautray, Executive Vice President Sales and Services, KION ITS EMEA, who lead the Board, to find out more.
Rada, how do you see the role of the Orgalim Presidents' Board?
Representing the interests of our industries is not something that happens in Brussels only: effective advocacy also requires collaborating closely at the national level across the EU. To me, the President's Board is a unique forum for doing that. It brings together the presidents of our member national associations in Europe in an effort to make EU regulation understandable to all, to build bridges among different national interests, and to bring a common message to both EU and national regulators, for the good and progress of EU industry, and of EU industrial policy and strategy. It also serves as a strategic support to Orgalim’s leadership, as well as providing a valuable networking opportunity for senior representatives of national associations.
Christophe, what was your motivation for getting involved in the Board?
As former President of FEM, the European Materials Handling Federation, it was very clear to me that the development of adequate standards and the full support of EU authorities are key to ensure our long-term success. Our equipment and solutions are present in almost every production and distribution facility throughout the entire supply and logistic chain. Big topics like digital transformation, information management and data exchange, AI, human-to machine cooperation, are common with other industries, and therefore my involvement with Orgalim is the natural follow-up of my involvement at FEM.
It seems that policy advocacy and regulatory intelligence is becoming more and more important for businesses in the manufacturing industry. Why is that?
Rada: There’s an increased tendency towards regulation in Europe and, since the pandemic, both the volume and the pace of regulation is accelerating even more. With the Industrial Strategy and a whole host of regulatory revisions, Europe is essentially providing the framework within which businesses operate. And so it is increasingly important both for policymakers to have a complete picture of the consequences of these regulations and for companies to understand what is coming down the road and to get engaged in shaping it. Even more so because this is ultimately not just for the good of industry, but for Europe as a whole, by making sure the technology industries can successfully play their very key role in the green, digital and just transition.
Christophe: For me, it's very clear that we see that advocacy work is more important than ever. Next to the digital transformation I already mentioned, both society and political authorities are pushing for more regulations on data protection, AI and environmental regulations. While those requirements encourage us industrials to make progress in those fields, we need to maintain our global competitiveness. And therefore a constructive dialogue with standards promoters is needed. If I can draw a picture, regulations are like guide rails, which are fine if they lead in the right direction, but over-regulation is simply killing our competitiveness. And that works against the objectives of greater resilience and strategic autonomy.
How has President's Board helped, specifically?
Rada: Take our last meeting, which focused on sustainable finance. The topic was being flagged by one national association in particular, so I tabled it at our last Presidents' Board meeting and that proved hugely valuable in raising awareness and understanding of the implications for our industries. The German national association, VDMA, moderated the session and Marcel Haag, Director in the Directorate-General for Financial Stability at the European Commission, joined us to give direct insights into the aims and development of the taxonomy.
Christophe: You can write position papers and have written communications but meeting physically, or at least remotely, with policymakers or MEPs is a great help. It gives us a chance to communicate with concrete examples to them and, on their side, it helps them better understand what we're doing and how important it is. On the taxonomy, the discussion was extremely useful for better understanding the spirit of it and how it is being done, and to share our perspective first-hand.
Rada, what topics are top of your list for the President's Board in 2021?
I think the next big one could be the so-called due diligence regulations that are being prepared at the European level to make it mandatory for all EU-based companies to ensure compliance with human rights and environmental rules throughout their supply chains. We already have some national legislation on this: France has it, for instance, for tier one suppliers, Germany has adopted a draft act also. We don't know yet what the European one will look like but what we can't have is different legislations in different countries, so it needs to be a unified approach. And we need to take into account the point of view of SMEs because for them to be obliged to do due diligence in the complete supply chain to see if the last supplier of the last supplier is compliant, that's something that's so costly and basically unpractical that it's not possible to do.
Christophe, what have been key learnings for you from these first two years of the President’s Board?
I am convinced more than ever of the value of having more interaction with policymakers and the EU Commission, and the Presidents’ Board is an extremely useful space for that. Because what you could call lobbying activities is usually done very technocratically and in written form and the Board enables us to personalise that, to make the dialogue a bit more between human beings and organise a real discussion, rather than just an exchange of position papers and articles or counter proposals.
Really it has nothing to do with ‘lobbying’. In the end, we are all European citizens living in Europe and wanting to reach a better Europe. But a better Europe is not one against the other, it's a better Europe together. So, for example, it’s about making sure we can protect citizens and keep our jobs in Europe, and finding the right compromise to make sure we can do that. So I would say we're actively engaging the discussion, at both the national and the European level.
The Presidents' Board is open to all presidents of Orgalim member national associations.