Ambitious base for future Commission agenda from President-elect Ursula von der Leyen

17 July 2019

On Tuesday evening the wait was over,...

On Tuesday evening the wait was over, as MEPs cast their votes to approve the appointment of Ursula von der Leyen as the next President of the European Commission. The former German Minister of Defence, hailing from the political family of the European People’s Party (EPP), will take the helm at the EU’s executive in the autumn for a term of five years.

What can Europe’s technology industries expect from President-elect von der Leyen? Some early insights can be gleaned from the initial political guidelines she presented to MEPs earlier this week. “These guidelines have set out an ambitious base for the future Commission work programme,” remarks Malte Lohan, Director General at Orgalim – the European association representing technology companies across the mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics and ICT, and metal technology branches. “We would like to congratulate Ms von der Leyen on her appointment and we look forward to successful collaboration as she embarks on her new role at this crucial time for Europe.”

Orgalim would have liked to see a dedicated headline priority on developing a 21st century industrial policy, putting innovation at the heart of Europe’s future competitiveness and ability to address the critical societal challenges we face. The political guidelines nevertheless underscore the central role industry and technology will play in shaping a future that’s good for Europe. “Look in more detail at what Ms von der Leyen is proposing and you find many synergies with the priorities for the industries we represent,” adds Mr Lohan. “Promoting EU leadership on the road to climate neutrality, strengthening Europe’s social market economy, making Europe fit for the digital age – these are all priorities shared by our sectors, where industry will be an essential partner in making it happen. The policy agenda we have set out remains central to helping Europe deliver on these priorities.”

Now, all eyes will be on the next steps as Ms von der Leyen puts together her team and fine-tunes the Commission’s priorities. The political environment she faces in delivering these priorities will be more fragmented and unpredictable than ever before. For industry associations like Orgalim, this is a moment to reflect on future engagement in a new political environment. “We must find our place in this more complex constellation where a deliberate focus on industry may not always be top of policymakers’ agenda,” comments Mr Lohan. “We will redouble our focus on showing that Europe needs a new framework that enables industry to reinvigorate our economy and foster innovation to address major societal challenges. And this will require ambitious action across the spectrum of policies impacting our technology companies.”

Photo: Christian Creutz, © European Union 2019, Source: EP