Brussels, 23 March 2023 The geopolitical tensions arising from Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, the weaponisation of energy and food supplies combined with China’s more aggressive stance and the growing global technology race in the context of green and digital transitions are putting the EU’s global influence and competitiveness to the test. The EPP believes in pragmatic and ambitious solutions that will safeguard the well-being of European citizens and social cohesion, while providing a sustainable framework for businesses to create growth and prosperity. It is high time for a more competitive Europe with a stronger focus on long-term growth and productivity. This means leading based on the principles of Social Market Economy, driven by a deepened Single Market, research and innovation, and a more ambitious trade policy. The EU needs less bureaucracy, better regulation and more secure access to critical raw materials, while also addressing demographic challenges that pose a risk to our labour market. Over the past decades, the EU’s productivity growth rate has been lower compared to the United States and the G7. The recently proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan is a good step to empower Europe in its future industrial competition with the United States and China. The EU needs a long-term strategy on competitiveness to foster growth, productivity and innovation, but also to tackle the regulatory challenges that European industries and businesses face, along with a strategy on free trade agreements with democratic partners worldwide. China’s policy of hidden subsidies, lack of enforcement of Intellectual Property rights and restriction of market access for European companies have exposed many of the vulnerabilities of the EU’s industrial model but also underscored the importance of considering the economic effects of the Union’s clean tech revolution. At the same time, the US Inflation Reduction Act has positive net-effects but also comes with challenges for European industries. While a common EU approach vis-à-vis China is key and a strong transatlantic link remains a vital EU interest, the Union must also focus its efforts on strengthening its own global competitiveness. The power of the EU’s economy rests on its vibrant Single Market. It has guaranteed decades of high productivity, growth, well paid jobs, and social inclusion. In an increasingly globalised world, we should strive to unlock the full potential of the Single Market by removing barriers and deepening it, addressing its fragilities and ensuring fair competition and equal business opportunities for large but also small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the EU. We believe in a Social Market Economy based on competition. That is why state aid rules are fundamental; and a subsidy race is not in our interest. However, with the global competition in mind, a simplified and faster state aid regime should be welcomed to boost the competitiveness of strategic sectors, such as chips, critical raw materials, clean tech and biotech, without distorting competition inside the Single Market. The EPP is determined to obtain a significant reduction of unnecessary regulatory burden, which is a condition to form a dynamic industrial strategy for the EU. Europe needs more sustained and ambitious efforts to become an attractive investment destination and a world leader for the innovation of the future. Furthermore, financing new investments on clean tech and digital technologies is key for enhancing growth potential, and supporting SMEs. A competitive economy, affordable and sufficient energy supply, and climate protection, must always go hand in hand for Europe’s future growth and prosperity. The creation of a robust Capital Markets Union will be a crucial component in untapping the unused potential of private capital investments and close a significant gap in comparison with the United States. High-energy prices remain a challenge for the competitiveness of our businesses and that is why we urge an ambitious revision of the electricity market design, and we make use of the momentum to create a genuine EU energy market. A competitive Europe also means a secure Europe. Europe must be open to the world, while at the same time protect its borders. We need to fight smugglers and prevent people risking their lives in the Mediterranean Sea. We must strengthen the security at our external borders, with integrated border management, including stationary and mobile infrastructure. This will allow effective control of the EU’s external borders, prevent neighbouring countries from weaponizing migrants against the Union, and ensure migrants have their fundamental rights respected. This includes the deployment of Frontex, as well as a new European mission for the Mediterranean to fight smugglers and to rescue people whose lives are in danger. Finally, we need to urgently complete the Asylum and Migration Pact and provide a solution that reconciles solidarity and responsibility. The EPP also applauds the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, for his committed efforts to resume negotiations on the Cyprus issue and his proposal for an enhanced EU role in these talks.

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For more information contact:

Maïa de la Baume

Spokesperson and Press Director  

Alexandra Henman

Deputy Spokesperson +32 471 90 76 84