Luxembourg deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Étienne Schneider yesterday participated in the sixth "Friends of Industry" meeting in Paris.

The meeting, which brought together the European ministers in charge of industry, was intended to position industrial policy at the heart of European priorities. This would be done by agreeing on ambitious and long-term proposals and by formalising a roadmap for the future European Commission that will emerge from the May 2019 elections.

The discussions focused on the challenges facing European industry, the importance of value chains in European industrial policy and the policies to be implemented at the European level in order to ensure the sustainable future of Europe and European industry and allow it to be part of the digital and energy transition. In Europe, the industry sector (34 million employees) is in decline: according to Eurostat, between 1995 and 2015 the industry's share of European GDP decreased from 23.3% to 19.3%.

At the end of the meeting, a joint statement was signed by the members of the group on, among other things, the importance of maintaining and developing a competitive and sustainable industry in Europe. The aim is to adopt an industrial strategy within the EU to stimulate sustainable industrial investment and encourage business innovation efforts. The importance of enterprise digitisation, with a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, was also highlighted.

Étienne Schneider, who represented Luxembourg at the event, commented that: "A common European strategy for industrial development will ensure the competitiveness of Europe's industrial fabric and long-term sustainable economic development in Europe. It is also essential to put in place an appropriate competition and mergers policy that is compatible with a genuine European industrial policy, in order to avoid cases such as the one encountered during the acquisition of Ilva by ArcelorMittal."