Published: Wed, 05 October 2016
Seán Kelly MEP (Ireland South), a Member of the European Parliament’s Industry Committee, has called for urgent action to prevent job losses in Europe and highlighted the need for a strong EU reindustrialisation policy. The cross-party European Parliament Motion for Resolution, co-authored by Mr Kelly, was tabled in response to the job losses announced last month by machinery manufacturer Caterpillar – including 250 jobs in Northern Ireland – and by French train manufacturer Alstom.
Speaking in the Parliament in Strasbourg today (Wednesday), Mr Kelly welcomed the strong adoption of the resolution and the Parliament’s show of solidarity with the workers affected.
“This is an important resolution as it sends the message to the affected workers that the European Parliament is on their side. Far too often in recent years we have had closures of plants and factories, leading to massive job losses. These closures and layoffs have significant negative impacts on the cities and regions that depend on them.
“In Ireland, we can take Waterford, for example, which is still seeking to replace the industry it lost. Now these parts of France, Belgium and Northern Ireland could face the same thing in the coming years. Not enough was done to prevent the loss of industry in Waterford, and so we shouldn’t allow the same to continue happening elsewhere.
“These cases are mere examples of a much bigger problem facing European industry. The response to these problems has been insufficient thus far – this is clear by the ongoing reports of layoffs. We need to put in place EU policies that aim to foster reindustrialisation and this must take on a principle of urgency so that more job losses are prevented. This policy needs to address the challenges faced by industry, including external competition, climate change, finance and skills shortages – we need to create an environment in Europe that is industry-friendly,” MEP Kelly said.
The MEP and Leader of the Fine Gael delegation in the European Parliament added that improving access to finance for companies is crucial, as is increasing funding for Research and Innovation: “Additionally, there is a need to better promote the link between research and industry. Europe will only return to being a the most competitive region in the world for industry when we achieve world leadership in technology innovation.
“It is also vital to develop technical skills and I think for that reason we need to seek to develop our apprenticeship programmes and better promote the importance of skilled technical workers.”
On Climate Change, Mr Kelly noted that European industry faces a growing challenge: “Our Climate and Energy Policy must go hand-in-hand with our strategy to increase jobs and create economic growth. These parallel challenges are very much compatible if we get the balance right.”
Concluding, Mr Kelly said: “In 2012, the European Commission launched a strategy with the aim of increasing the EU’s industrial activity to 20% of GDP. With this resolution, I want to reiterate this goal and call on the Commission to keep it in mind for all its proposals to help us ensure we reach this target”.