ACEA president Carlos Ghosn called on Europe’s new policy makers to commit to reforms to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry, which is a cornerstone of Europe’s economy.
At the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s (ACEA) annual general meeting last week, Ghosn, who is also chairman and CEO of Renault, outlined the industry’s manifesto for a competitive European automobile industry and said that confidence was starting to return to European markets, predicting that growth could be sustained alongside Europe’s recovery.
“As we begin a new chapter in EU policy making, our industry is making three concrete recommendations to consolidate this growth and to strengthen our global competitiveness. These are to drive innovation, to foster growth through international trade, and to build a supportive regulatory framework.”
The auto industry is the number-one R&D investor in Europe - ahead of the pharma and technology industries. “We need the flexibility to continue driving innovation in our priority areas of environmental performance, safety and connectivity,” said Ghosn.
“To this end, we need policies and regulations that encourage rather than restrict innovation, and that are technology-neutral.”
One industry observer suggested there was some irony that carmakers' national sales companies appear to simultaneously implement their own policies and standards that restrict innovation in their retail networks.
In the light of ongoing free trade negotiations with Japan and the United States, Ghosn called for a comprehensive approach to trade policy that covers not only tariff elimination, but also the removal of non-tariff barriers and regulatory cooperation.
“Our business model is based on free trade -- free trade that is balanced, fair and reciprocal, providing impetus to produce for both European and International markets,” he said.
In order to improve the overall regulatory framework for the automotive industry – which is one of the most regulated sectors in Europe – Ghosn called for impact assessments to be carried out systematically whenever proposals are drafted or legislation is reviewed, and for realistic lead times for any proposals affecting the industry.
Ghosn was speaking shortly after the European elections on the occasion of ACEA’s annual general meeting, which convenes the CEOs of Europe’s main motor vehicle manufacturers.
“Europe’s policy makers and industry leaders need to work together to build the right conditions for growth, jobs and investment. Together, we can ensure a future in which Europe’s industry is sustainable, and its citizens are prosperous and mobile. ACEA will contribute constructively to policy discussions with the new Parliament and Commission so we can help turn this vision into reality.”