Pandemic is “unique opportunity to rethink EU industry” – Siza Vieira

  • Lusa
  • 23 February 2021

Portugal's economy minister affirms that the pandemic of Covid-19 is "a unique opportunity to rethink industrial issues" in the EU.

Portugal’s Economy Minister, Pedro Siza Vieira said on Tuesday that “the economic recovery will be slower” than expected but stressed that the pandemic of Covid-19 is “a unique opportunity to rethink industrial issues” in the EU.

The Minister, speaking at the opening of the fourth edition of the European Union (EU) Industry Days, recalled that “the pandemic has brought profound and very different impacts in different countries and economic sectors”.

“The recovery will take longer than we hoped for and predicted in recent months,” said Siza Vieira.

He assured however that the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council is committed to “help fight the crisis and support the recovery”, based on three main priorities – “promote a European recovery through the double digital and ecological transition, implement the EU’s Social Pillar, a key element to ensure a fair and inclusive transition, and strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy in the world”.

According to Siza Vieira, the 27 member states of the EU bloc are “building a consensus around the European strategy of industrialisation,” given that, “in recent decades, the leadership of European industry has been challenged” by “the development of other world regions and new technologies.

It is therefore “necessary to guarantee European strategic autonomy that maintains this leadership” in the industrial ecosystem, he argued.

“In the future, industry will have to adapt to a new paradigm, while maintaining its leadership,” he pointed out, adding that reindustrialisation should take into consideration decarbonisation and energy efficiency.

For Siza Vieira, it is important that the EU focuses on the development of technologies and processes for industrial production, in order to be “a producer of technology and not a follower and buyer of technologies produced by others”.

According to the minister, the European Commission will launch, “in the coming months”, an update of the European industrial strategy to be discussed by the 27.

Siza Vieira argues that this update “should reflect the importance of the single European market, cohesion and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the ‘backbone’ of the European economy.

SMEs, he said would be “a crucial issue” for the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council, as “no European industrial strategy can be successful without the participation of SMEs in industrial transformation”.

“We therefore support the creation of strategic industrial alliances given that they can contribute significantly to this innovation process and help to integrate SMEs in industrial ecosystems,” he concluded.