Vive l’Europe: it’s time to re-energise industry
Author: Dr Christian Rosenkranz, Chairman of the Consortium for Battery Innovation and European Vice President of Industry and Government Affairs at Clarios.
THE FRENCH PRESIDENT Emmanuel Macron has issued the clearest signal yet to policymakers and industrialists that he wants a laser-like focus on re-industrialisation: a make it in Europe agenda.
In a recent summit in Versailles, he welcomed senior business leaders and invited them to “choose France”, but his message was much more than a French drive for inward investment.
“Since becoming president of France in 2017, I have consistently argued for the idea of European sovereignty,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Financial Times. “We have to take back control of our supply chains, energy and innovation. We need more factories and fewer dependencies. Made in Europe should be our motto,” he wrote.
The president’s clarion call echoes the EU’s drive to counter the United States’ perceived progress in stimulating manufacturing and growth through its Inflation Reduction Act and other measures designed to stimulate the economy and attract new investment.
The French president’s passion for a re-energised European industrial policy is welcome, if not overdue. However, in supporting this approach, EU policymakers must be careful to nurture existing industries as well as new business investment, because there are so many interdependencies in complex supply chains, from technical expertise to accessing raw materials.
The lead battery value chain is just one example of an EU success story where advanced manufacturing, innovation and recycling of raw materials are all well-established, and strategically autonomous. Our industry has a major role to play in delivering future energy storage needs across multiple applications from EV charging stations, to renewably powered microgrids. Our batteries are a mainstay for telecoms systems and data centres as well as multiple other industrial uses.
The raw material that’s integral to our products – lead – is produced and recycled in Europe. All lead batteries collected here are recycled and the materials re-used in new battery production. It’s the circular economy in action.
We are integral to Europe’s battery eco-system and an important link to achieving decarbonisation and electrification goals.
Through investment in new technology, innovative energy storage solutions and new applications will continue to create green jobs, skilled roles and secure employment. The lead and lead battery value chains already supports 184,000 direct and indirect jobs across member states, generating €14.7 billion of value added or gross domestic product (GDP).
Europe is entering a new era. Post pandemic and with war in Ukraine, amid other global uncertainties, it is essential that Europe moves quickly to strengthen and secure its industrial position. So I welcome the President of France’s timely intervention and ask policymakers, legislators and all stakeholders to work together to support all that we make in Europe today, as well as planning for a thriving and sustainable industrial base for the future.