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The future of European manufacturing

At the end of November I attended the Future of European Manufacturing summit hosted by the FT in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group, The EEF and Siemens. It was an impressive panel with discussions about every challenge that manufacturers may face across Europe. Interestingly, one of the audience members highlighted that it would have been good to see someone representing SME manufacturers; and I feel it was a valid and justified point.

My previous blogs, which often have turned into lively debates, have discussed UK (and not necessarily European) manufacturing. It was interesting to listen to the challenges facing Europe being discussed, rather than solely UK manufacturing. My most recent blog was asking the question whether to stay in the EU or not, which sparked a very animated discussion. This is exactly what we need to do, so that people make an informed decision – and not a decision based on the scaremongering and sensationalised stories produced by some of the British press.

There was absolutely no doubt that it is in the interest of British manufacturers to stay an EU member; however it was acknowledged there is a real need for reform for a successful partnership for the future. Daniel Calleja Crespo, the Director General of DG Enterprise and Industry at the European Commission gave an impassioned address regarding the fact that all EU members play a huge part in shaping a more business-friendly EU. Daniel said they are committed to more business-friendly regulation. He confirmed that before any new regulations are passed they would have to be tested, some of these tests being “what is the impact on competiveness?”, “what is the impact on SME’s?”; he also spoke of tests to be carried out on existing regulation with the aim of finding out how they could facilitate business better.

There were further discussions around patents and the cost associated with businesses in Europe, digitisation and how European Manufacturing must harness the digital revolution; access to finance, highlighting the fact many SME’s do not know what options are available.

The panel discussion topics were:

  • Competiveness and Growth in Europe – Regaining the Lost Advantage
  • Innovation – Making it happen now
  • Unlocking Funding for European Industry
  • Digitisation – How software and Digital design will Reshape Manufacturing
  • Talent & Skills in manufacturing – Tackling Unemployment while Developing a Competitive Workforce
  • The Future of Manufacturing


I would be keen to hear your experiences and, more importantly, what you think can be done to make manufacturing across the EU a competitive contender on the global manufacturing stage. Please do share your thoughts below.

Claire Lauder is the Principal for Manufacturing at Interim Partners.

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