Peugeot, Opel, Ford … successive closures in Europe mean the car sector is struggling. In an action plan presented today, the European Commission committed to supporting and facilitating its painful restructuring.
EU Industry Commissioner:
“I decided to meet with the industry, I’ll meet with the unions before the end of November and I invited the Ministers of Industry to have a discussion on working towards a better car industry.”
Purchases of European new car registrations fell almost 11% in the last year. The decline has lasted five years. In Genk, Belgium, 4,300 employees of the Ford factory are gripped by periods of layoffs pending final closure of the site. The Commission’s announcement was met with reservation.
ABBV Socialist Trade Union:
“Every bit of help is more than welcome. On the other hand, I hope that there’ll be more only just talks, that there will be some decisions made that will help the car industry in Europe. Otherwise, it is just being busy and giving people false hope.”
With flagging domestic demand and close to 30% overcapacity, the European auto industry is looking for salvation in innovation and emerging markets. Brussels has agreed to support investment in technology and facilitate exports.
European Automobile Manufacturers Association:
“I think that if we invest enough in innovation, if we chop the overcapacity, if we restructure the industry, in one way or another we have to make this industry competitive.”
Words that offer little comfort to the workers at Ford Genk. Part of their plant’s production will be relocated to Spain.