joi, 17 octombrie 2013

Romania’s future automotive industry through Brussels

The debate in Brussels these days is looking ahead, focusing on the period 2014-2019. Already there is much debate about possible future priorities of the European Commission and the European Parliament elected in May 2014. Industry is also present on the agenda, through the angle of ‘recovery or reinvention’ of industry in the European Union.

The automotive sector is often associated with Germany's economic strength, but it definitely counts as a strength of contemporary Romania as well. Let us try to outline the sector by positioning it to better understand what role our country can play. Dacia, a symbol of Romanian industry, recently celebrated 45 years of existence and we find that it is represented in Brussels by associating Renault - Nissan - Dacia. The Brussels office consists of eight permanent members amongst which, until a few months ago, a Romanian (she now works at the Nissan HQ in Barcelona).

The European automotive industry’s main channel of communication with European policymakers in Brussels is ACEA - European Association of Cars Manufacturers, which includes members like BMW, Renault, Fiat, and other well-known brands. What is the role of this association? Imagine that Mercedes would like to explain their view on a certain European Commission legislative proposal for enhancing road safety. And then imagine that delegations from Volvo and Fiat knock on the policy makers’ doors to explain their views on the same subject. It's too complicated and inefficient, and therefore it is recommended to "lump industrial groups" into European associations (interest groups), with an annual general meeting of the members, working groups, and where possible a permanent secretariat in Brussels. All this can then represent the "common industry views about the subject". The associations express opinions on behalf of the sector that has given the mandate to represent them. Of course to achieve compromises in these "internal" debates is not easy. Don’t forget that despite the fact that negotiations are done at the same table, the companies who form the association are permanent commercial competition to each other, and those working in car sales know well what that means.

A concrete example: Angela Merkel imposed a few months ago that in any EU member state, by 2020, emissions cannot not exceed 95g/km. A reaction by the major car manufacturers was presented shortly after that, stating that this would increase costs for producers considerably. Strong opposition was expressed in particular by Mercedes, BMW and Audi who demanded Europe to renegotiate. Another package discussed last year was energy taxation, which at the end of the talks "product" price for diesel great for the automotive industry.

Romania, as part of the European Union, has now more than ever the chance of a new dynamic, a new perspective, a new positioning, a new sizing - a European one. Here is a possibility to be an actor involved in world events, not just an observer, in the political, social, cultural, and economic arenas.

Dan LUCA / Brussels


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