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European Law Monitor NewsEU partnership to help 12 million car industry workers adapt to change and reinforce competitiveness

The European Commission and the main industry and workers' organisations in the car sector have on 5 November 2007 formally announced a new partnership to help better anticipate and manage change in the EU's automotive industry. The initiative • which follows a high-level forum on restructuring in Brussels last month • brings together the Commission and the European Automotive Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) and the European Metalworkers Federation (EMF). It will monitor developments in the industry, while the partners will exchange know-how on managing restructuring in a socially responsible way.

"12 million European families depend on the automotive sector for their livelihoods," said Employment Commissioner Vladimír Špidla. "While the sector faces tough challenges such as increased competition and restructuring, there are also big opportunities. This partnership commits companies, trade unions, governments and regions to act together to better prepare for change and manage it in a proactive way."

"The car industry is an important source of prosperity, employment and innovation in the EU," he added. "We need to ensure competitiveness and employment in this strategic industry while sustaining further progress in safety and environmental performance at a price affordable to the consumer."

The "European Partnership for the anticipation of change in the automotive industry", subscribed to by all the economic and social players of the sector commits the partners (EU, governments, companies, trade unions and regions) to a series of concrete actions, including:

       * A new observatory on change in the automobile industry, including employment and skills needs;
       * Collecting and exchange of best practice on socially responsible restructuring, with a view to developing recommendations at a later stage;

- Better use of funding (such as the European Social Fund and European Globalisation Fund) to support anticipation and adaptation to change.

The automotive sector provides work for more than 2 million Europeans and supports an additional 10 million jobs indirectly. It accounts for approximately 3% of EU GDP, contributes ca. €60 billion to exports (ca. 4% of total EU manufacturing exports) and is the largest private R&D investor Europe with over €20 billion invested into innovation each year (4% of the turnover of the sector and 20% of the total European manufacturing R&D). But the industry also faces diverse challenges, including growing international competition, changing societal demands related to mobility, environmental concerns and road safety, shifts in demand around the world and skills shortages to replace an ageing workforce.

Last month's Forum was a starting point to open dialogue between all relevant actors and help them to better adapt to change. Around 250 high level representatives from European institutions, companies, trades unions and national and regional authorities took part. A further Restructuring Forum will take place on 26 November, this time focusing on adaptation of small businesses to change.

Further information

Text of the partnership:

Restructuring Forum: