Orgalime’s summer General Assembly: 10 key takeaways

19 June 2017

On 8 and 9 June, the European engineering community assembled in the idyllic countryside of Windsor, UK, for the Orgalime summer General Assembly. Representatives of Orgalime’s member associations joined guests from the worlds of industry and policy for a packed programme of panel debates, speeches and committee meetings. Here are ten things we learned…

1. Against the backdrop of the UK elections, it was no surprise that one word was on everyone’s lips: Brexit. The future role of the UK in the EU formed a core focus of the public sessions. And while optimism may have been in short supply, hope remains: speakers underlined the commitment of industry to push for a constructive trade deal as soon as possible.

2. The Brexit blues are not reserved for the UK alone – manufacturers in the wider EU, too, are bracing themselves for the tough negotiations ahead. French, German and Swiss industry leaders shared a European perspective on the challenges to come, with the main word of advice being compromise – and a whole lot of patience, too.

3. The time for a European industrial strategy is now. Orgalime President Tomas Hedenborg made the case for a comprehensive approach at EU level that would connect the dots between all policy areas affecting European manufacturers. “It will be the key to securing a competitive future for Europe,” he concluded, “and a bright, sustainable future for its citizens.”

4. Policies to promote the transition to smart energy systems must form a central pillar of any industrial strategy. This transformation is already underway, driven by digitisation and decarbonisation – and it presents a huge opportunity for the European manufacturers behind the innovations driving the change.

5. The European engineering industry continues to show resilience in a difficult climate: latest figures released at the General Assembly show that output and employment are set to rise for the fourth year running – with forecasts for 2017 exceeding €2,000 billion turnover and 11 million employees.

6. Think standardisation is all bureaucracy? Think again! Speakers from UK and EU standards bodies challenged perceptions by highlighting how standards can accelerate innovation and act as a passport for trade. Particularly as digitisation steps up a gear, Europe will need to stay at the forefront of standard-setting if it is to keep pace with global competition.

7. It’s been a busy 12 months at Orgalime – as evidenced in our 2016-17 Annual Report, which was launched at the Windsor meet. Covering everything from industrial policy, internal market and trade, to R&D, energy and environment policy, it focuses on the need for a coordinated industrial strategy across all EU policies affecting our firms.

8. Orgalime has a new member: we were pleased to welcome C.E.F.A.C.D, the European Committee of Manufacturers of Domestic Heating and Cooking Appliances, to our ranks – bringing to nine the number of sector associations and 41 the number of associations represented overall.

9. A number of changes were ushered in on the Orgalime Board of Directors: Peter Bongaerts of Dutch association FME was appointed Chairman of the General Assembly and the Board of Directors. Thilo Brodtmann, representing Germany’s VDMA, was named Vice-Chairman, while Klas Wåhlberg of Teknikföretagen, Sweden, was appointed to the Board for the first time. Finally, Tomas Hedenborg’s successful Presidency of Orgalime has been extended for a further year.

10. They say laughter is the best medicine… and evening entertainment provided by comedian Henning Wehn helped counter any election day malaise. His observations on life as a German in London were a hit with the international audience – proving Europeans are united not only in diversity, but in appreciation of a good joke!