Focus on Digitising European Industry

29 June 2017

The digitisation of industry can no longer be ignored – yet a constructive and common EU-level framework to deal with the various issues that the digital transformation will inevitably encounter has yet to be properly formulated.

From the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation in the workplace, interest in the digital transformation that industry is currently undergoing is becoming increasingly apparent, exemplified by the European Parliament publishing a report about it in April 2016. More recently, the Competitiveness Council called upon the European Commission (EC) to implement an industrial strategy and have it up and running by spring 2018. Such an action plan, with concrete resources will have the positive effect of incorporating support for digitisation within an ambitious strategy.

On Wednesday 21 June 2017, Orgalime, in partnership with the European Forum for Manufacturing (EFM) organised a dinner debate at the European Parliament. The discussions highlighted new models for manufacturing, with company speakers demonstrating how they have incorporated digital systems into their work, and the benefits to be reaped from this transformation. Under the Chairmanship of MEP Bütikofer, MEPs, the Director General of DG CONNECT of the European Commission, Mr. Roberto Viola and a delegate from the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU discussed the steps ahead and the work currently being done at EU level.  

It was encouraging to note the very broad support, both across the industry and across political parties that more must be done to achieve a successful digital transformation for European industry. One core concept, emphasised by MEPs and the EC, put EU-wide collaboration and participation as a central tenet in delivering a stronger and more competitive outcome. Indeed, the US and certain Asian countries currently dominate the B2C digitisation landscape. But the tools that the EU has in place, and the scope of available talent, should enable European industry to become much more competitive and to take the leading role in the digitisation of industry, starting from its strong manufacturing base.

Overall, the tone was optimistic, and it was felt that the steps being taken were certainly being taken in the right direction. Orgalime has stressed the need for a greater role to be played by the EU in supporting the digitisation transformation – this would boost the current transitions being implemented on the ground. A more prominent strategy put forward by the EU would benefit all European regions, and have a greater impact on job creation and economic growth. The digitisation of industry will undeniably be a transformative process, and will raise many different challenges, both on social, economic and even political levels – but the end product will undoubtedly usher in a new period of greater competitiveness, innovation and growth in the EU. This is good for the industry, for its growth, for employment and last but by no means least, for the EU as a whole.    

For more information on Orgalime’s views on the digitisation of industry please consult our website. Photos of the event can be found here. Don’t forget to check out our new video outlining our vision for an industrial strategy.