European re-industrialisation must avoid social dumping
Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said that re-industrialisation in Europe needs a policy designed for all seasons, not when major companies are about to collapse. It needs consistent and effective application. The European tradition is one which associates public policy with industrial endeavour.
“Saying so is not a rejection of globalisation. Rather it reflects the need for a European commitment to the planned development of globalisation which avoids social dumping through free trade. There is no other way by which to promote re-industrialisation and make it applicable equally to big and small companies,” said the Maltese MEP.
Dr Sant was explaining his vote in favour of a Resolution on the ‘Need for a European reindustrialisation policy in light of the recent Caterpillar and Alstom cases’ at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The Resolution reflects a call for a policy to “re-industrialise” the EU, in the wake of closure and redundancy plans announced by giant companies such as Caterpillar and Alstom. These closures are being seen as a symptom of Europe’s industrial malaise.
Dr Sant said that during the past years re-industrialisation was supposed to have been a major plank of EU policy. As an issue, it was only promoted sporadically, when major problems arose for major industrial players in major EU member states. “Meanwhile,” said Dr Sant, “most other member states experienced continuing shocks to their industrial systems. They suffered big losses in employment and industrial knowhow. De-industrialisation affected big and small companies alike.”
While highlighting important factors about re-industrialisation, Dr Sant said that the worries of big and small companies and the need to promote a really effective re-industrialisation strategy were buried under the preoccupation with a competition policy that screens out all state aid; a strong commitment to free trade under the aegis of globalisation; and a belief that services by themselves would keep Europe’s economies in competitive shape.