The meeting of the EU Industry and Internal Market Ministers, held by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union took place in Lens on 31 January – 1 February 2022.
27 EU ministers were involved in the discussion of strengthening European strategic autonomy, highlighting the importance of securing both internal and external supply of raw materials that are critical to EU industry.
Problematic and Objectives
The European Commission identified a list of 137 products on which the EU is highly dependent. Covering the sectors of health, defence, raw materials, and technologies at the heart of the green and digital transitions, this list is represented in the May 2021 update of the European Industrial Strategy.
This list of vulnerabilities diagnosed by the European Commission was agreed upon by the Member States. They also pointed out that despite the open economy benefits, some urgent actions to restore European strategic autonomy and its capacity to respond to crises must be taken.
Solution in Actions
Since March 2020 numerous actions to meet current and future needs have been taken by the ministers. Among them is the launch of joint industrial projects at the European level – The Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for electric car batteries, microelectronics and the new pending projects in the key sectors of electronics and connectivity, the Cloud, hydrogen and health. More on the IPCEI pre-notification.
Other actions include the improving capacity to respond to crises through the creation of the European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA); implementation of new financing capacities (NextGenEU recovery plan); ensuring fair conditions for competition thanks to trade defence instruments (TDI), the screening of foreign direct investment and the May 2021 proposal for a Regulation on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market.
Upcoming Chips Act
Thierry Breton, the Commissioner for the Internal Market, also described the main priorities of the upcoming Chips Act, which should allow the EU to account for 20% of the worldwide production of semiconductors by 2030. This regulation will speed the transition from research to a factory, investment in European production capacities, and the guarantee of secure supply in the event of a crisis.
According to the open source, the EU is to publish proposals for its Chips Act on February 8th.
More on the Upcoming European Chips Act here.
The “Meeting of the EU Industry and Internal Market Ministers” full press-release is available on the official website of French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.