CLEPA welcomes the European Commission’s new trade strategy and is ready to continue to engage

CLEPA recognises that today’s communication confirms the EU’s growing attention for sustainability and level playing field. CLEPA will continue to play a constructive role ensuring that trade policy initiatives that aim to address legitimate concerns regarding level playing field, supply chains, human rights and sustainability are shaped effectively and do not result in counterproductive outcomes. It will be crucial to ensure that trade policy instruments do not circumvent or undermine the WTO. Instruments that could be perceived as protectionist should be carefully considered and trade partners should be consulted to avoid trade tensions and a spiral of retaliation measures. Trade in innovative and sustainable technologies will play a key role realising the objective of a sustainable and circular economy, highlighting the importance of a trade strategy that facilitates a global flow of goods and access to markets.

in CLEPA, 18-02-2021


CLEPA Secretary General Sigrid de Vries said: “CLEPA welcomes the European Commission’s new trade strategy and the clarity the communication provides on the core objectives of the EU’s trade policy. Europe’s automotive suppliers agree that an open trade regime is at the centre of Europe’s economic prosperity and competitiveness. Continued access to global markets and a stable, global trade environment will be crucial for our sector to recover from the current crisis and continue to invest to maintain our leading role as innovators in sustainable and safe mobility.   

The openness of the Single Market and Free Trade Agreements create opportunities for businesses across the world and help attract investments, creating jobs and strengthening Europe’s economic fabric. CLEPA will continue to support the Commission in its efforts to negotiate trade agreements with third countries and endorses ratification of concluded agreements, including the FTA with Mercosur. The Commission rightly pursues reform of the World Trade Organisation, as it will play a crucial role providing a secure and stable framework for international trade and investment.  This is particularly true for automotive suppliers who rely on an open and stable trade environment to fulfill a leading role in the global supply chain. The scale of the global market allows our industry to provide 1.7 million direct jobs in the EU alone and invest €30 billion a year in innovation.

CLEPA | Sheer dimension of chip shortages requires rethinking by industry and policy makers

The sheer dimension of the semiconductor shortage and the complexity of solving both short and long term issues requires rethinking of supply chain options by both industry and policy makers. It also signals how 2021 may well become a year of great volatility for manufacturing industries.

in CLEPA, by Sigrid de Vries, 17-02-2021


Many elements are coming together in the current semiconductor shortage in the automotive industry: from the fall-out of the COVID-19 crisis and the unpredictability of crisis recovery, to increased automotive demand for chips due to assisted-driving functions and electrification, to geopolitical and natural disaster ‘de-risking’, to competing demand from other sectors.

In the first wave of the pandemic, the automotive industry came to an almost complete standstill and had to dramatically adjust production volumes to fence off costs, with little to go on as regards timing and speed of the recovery. When demand then picked up rapidly, many were still wary on how solid the trend would be. The automotive supply chain for advanced chips is typically long and this added complexity: many actors need to align and sync their demand and supply.

Marked volatility may also hit sourcing of other key materials

In January 2021, the sector saw itself confronted with a large gap between ordered and produced vehicles, coupled with a higher demand for 2021 than scenarios foresaw and much lower stocks than usual. In addition, demand for electric vehicles started soaring driven by acceleration of the green transition, increasing pressure on semiconductor demand.

Industry and market watchers expect the disruptions to last well into the second half of the year, with great variety in who will be hit and for how long. Industry sources also warn that similar patterns may occur throughout 2021 in the sourcing of other materials needed to build cars as well as industrial goods and consumer products. A continued, marked volatility in demand, driven by uncertainty around the containment of the pandemic, regional variations, and difficulty to predict purchasing behaviour, may cause disturbance in the supply of essential resources. Logistics may be vulnerable too, with demand soaring in China taking away capacity from elsewhere.

The unmistakable trend, however, is that automotive demand for semiconductors will continue to grow big time due to the increasing share of automated and assisted driving technologies to keep drivers comfortable and safe, as well as the electrification of vehicles with the required sophisticated management of battery performance and other electronics.

Automotive demand for semiconductors will continue to grow big time

On average, a vehicle today already contains around a hundred advanced semiconductors chips, a steep increase compared to only a decade ago, but the value of semiconductor content of electrified vehicles can be up to three times higher. Expert estimations hold that electronics and semiconductor materials could represent up to 45% of the value of a car by 2030.

Automotive supplies are already heavily invested in vehicle electronics, covering the wide range of applications from on-board comfort and infotainment systems to active-safety features to battery and wider powertrain management. With activity and employment rapidly diminishing in combustion engine based technology, the expansion into ‘digital’ offers substantial opportunities.

Whereas the European semiconductor ecosystem currently provides employment for 200,000 people, McKinsey estimated in 2019 that under the right conditions, the automotive industry alone could create 400,000 European jobs related to electronic and software components for vehicles. Currently, 1.7 million people are employed by the automotive suppliers in Europe, on top of the 1.2 by vehicle manufacturers.

However, the investments needed amount to billions of euros and the return in both revenue and employment levels is years off in comparison to the impact of the restructuring costs and R&D efforts made in the here and now. In this light, the semiconductor events not just underline the attention required for the diversification and resilience of the supply chain. They also raise strategic questions for Europe.

Questions that the European Commission will try to partly address through a Microelectronics Alliance for Europe, to be launched next month, in analogy to the earlier established European Battery Alliance. The German and French governments are also looking to increasing industrial activity in this field, as voiced in a joint statement this week, notable through the IPCEI instrument (Important Project of Common European Interest), and argue that the European Recovery and Resilience Funds should be used for this.

Focus should be on R&I and market demand, rather than on subsidies and reshoring

The European Commission will look at both manufacturing options as well as strategic R&I, and this is the right approach. Both aspects need careful consideration. Successful industries do not result from subsidies and government intervention towards reshoring, but follow market demand and concrete business cases. The focus on R&I will be critical, as will the availability and strengthening of digital skills and competence throughout education and employment in Europe.

The key challenge will be to secure advanced semiconductor development and production in Europe, sharing base technology between players while allowing enough space for diversification, on a scale to profitably supply a home market as well as players abroad. The Commission has rightly identified automotive as one of four sectors to focus on. Automotive globally is responsible for around 10% of semiconductor demand, yet in Europe for 37%: there will be no successful European semiconductor strategy in which automotive won’t play a key role.

European semiconductor strategy cannot be successful without a key role for automotive

The future semiconductor strategy is connected to the wider question of how to ensure that EU industry as a whole captures business and employment opportunities in electronics, software and artificial intelligence and secure its future relevance. In this light, also the upcoming Digital Decade Strategy of the Commission and the review of the EU Industrial policy will need careful calibration. The many strategies and initiatives must be coherent and mutually reinforcing.

A successful industrial strategy will have to rely on the long game of supporting R&I investment, standard setting and improving Europe’s role in artificial intelligence research, skills as well as its attractiveness for international talent. The automotive sector has the potential to serve as an essential bridgehead for the wider European industrial base to capture opportunities of an increasingly digital economy.

Sigrid de Vries

CLEPA Secretary General

 

Automotive suppliers raise red flag over border closures and intensified inspections

The implementation of border controls between the German and the Czech and Austrian border crossings risk to create disturbances in automotive industry production plants soon.

in CLEPA, 15-02-2021


Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General highlights: “Europe’s automotive suppliers are concerned about recent announcements on border closures and intensified inspections. These measures result in disruption at Europe’s internal borders and critical delays in the supply chain. The Single Market is an important achievement of the European Union. Defending its integrity is a priority, specifically with regards to the freedom of movement of goods and workers. Parts stuck at the border could disrupt our Just in Time supply chains, interrupt production and put the sector’s performance and jobs at risk”.

in CLEPA, 15-02-2021


While health and safety are paramount, and industry itself has taken numerous measures to keep up highest standards, it is also important to safeguard the integrity of the internal market. “EU governments must respect their commitment agreed during the January Council to keep borders open”, says de Vries.

“Transport of goods should be exempt from border closures and Member States should ensure the alignment of their border control measures to support the functioning of the Single Market. If controls at the border crossings are intensified, Member States should respect their commitment to prioritise freight transport, as done successfully during the first wave through the introduction of ‘Green Lanes‘ with easily applicable rules. It is important to note that COVID-test requirements for professional truck drivers could undermine corridors for goods and risk disrupting supply chains, as shown by the example of Dover in December, where long queues to test truck drivers resulted in significant disruption, while almost all truck drivers tested negative for the virus. Only by setting up a practical test practice that can ensure the protection of the workers while guaranteeing the supply of goods would keep the automotive supply chain working”.

EU-China investment agreement is hopeful sign, but clarity on substance is critical

Europe’s automotive suppliers welcome the conclusion of negotiations between the EU and China on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

in CLEPA, 30-12-2020


Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA secretary general, comments: “China is our industry’s second most important investment destination and European automotive suppliers are the biggest foreign investors in the sector in China. There are growing concerns that investment and market access conditions in China are uncertain and do not reflect the openness of the European market. A deal that secures and improves reciprocity in market access and investment conditions is therefore crucial for our industry and the protection of hundred thousands of jobs across the EU and China.”

European suppliers would support a deal that eliminates hurdles for investment in so-called new energy vehicles, provides enhanced protection of intellectual property and introduces more transparency and disciplines on state aid to establish a level playing field and reduce market distortions. Lastly, the deal could provide a meaningful institutional underpinning for cooperation between the EU and China to achieve climate neutrality and address human rights concerns.

CLEPA wants to acknowledge the efforts on both sides over the past seven years to come to an agreement. De Vries: “With the political decision to conclude negotiations being taken, it is now critical that the European Commission engages with all stakeholders to provide more clarity on the substance of the agreement. European suppliers currently lack sufficient detail on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment to assess whether the sector’s concerns are sufficiently addressed. CLEPA is ready to scrutinise the agreement in principle and contribute to the next steps.”

 

Automotive suppliers comment on the EU-UK trade deal

The European Association of Automotive Suppliers, CLEPA, welcomes the Christmas trade agreement between the EU and UK and thanks all parties involved for their commitment to getting a deal agreed. This deal represents the starting point to ensure the continuation of the cooperation for both sides.

in CLEPA, 24-12-2020


Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General, commented: “This deal avoids what would have been a worst-case scenario for European suppliers and the many jobs depending on the EU-UK trade relationship. Businesses and customs authorities now need The European Association of Automotive Suppliers, CLEPA, welcomes the Christmas trade agreement between the EU to work around the clock to get ready for the new trading conditions only one week before its implementation. We ask policy makers to engage with us to ensure trade in components is not needlessly being hit by tariffs and to avoid disruption at the border.”

CLEPA will analyse the technical details of the deal as soon as all the material is published to assess the extent into which this deal will serve the interests of the highly integrated EU/UK automotive supply chain, and refrain from commenting on the substance of the deal before then. Already certain is though that the deal will not avoid the resurrection of many trade barriers. We will therefore continue to work constructively with our partners in the EU and the UK to ensure that this free trade agreement proves a first building block rather than an end point.

 


 

About CLEPA

CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers based in Brussels, represents over 3.000 companies, from multi-nationals to SMEs, supplying state-of-the-art components and innovative technology for safe, smart and sustainable mobility, investing over 30 billion euros yearly in research and development. Automotive suppliers in Europe employ about five million people across the continent.

A manageable transition to climate neutrality rests on competitive technologies

Sigrid de Vries, Secretary General of CLEPA comments on the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, adopted today by the European Commission:

in CLEPA, 09-12-2020


“A manageable transition, for the climate, industry and employment, rests on competitive technologies such as the internal combustion engine, plug-in hybrids, fuel cell and battery electric vehicles. Only a transformation that is industrially successful and socially accepted can be sustainable politically and achieve the climate neutrality objective. A strategy that builds exclusively on battery and fuel cell electric vehicles contradicts the principle of technology openness and will neither achieve carbon neutrality nor support European competitiveness.”

The automotive suppliers in Europe, associated in CLEPA, support the Paris Agreement and the objective of climate neutrality for 2050. They are convinced that the way to climate neutrality is through a technology open environment that balances environmental, social as well as economic goals.

De Vries: “The question is not if, but how to best achieve climate neutrality. Climate policy must strive for effectiveness and efficiency in order to achieve the objective at a minimum cost to society. We underline, that an approach taking life-cycle or well-to-wheel emissions into account will create incentives for all technologies to reduce emissions and increase efficiency.”

CLEPA welcomes the Commission’s work on exploring an approach, including impact assessment, that takes into account the potential contribution of fuels from sustainable renewable sources including the option of a voluntary crediting mechanism. It is positive that the Commission considers increasing targets for renewable energy and sustainable renewable fuels in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) to ramp up their development and deployment.

De Vries: “Climate-neutral internal combustion with fuels from sustainable renewable sources is a viable option. Supplying renewable energy and fuels for mobility along with the necessary infrastructure must be a priority for policy makers, including for road transport and not limited to other sectors. It is positive that the Communication recognises this, and we are keen on working further on the rules and conditions to make deployment of renewable energy and sustainable fuels from renewable sources a success. The targets of 3 million public charging points by 2030 and 500 hydrogen stations by 2025 are welcome. But the need will by far exceed these numbers, specifically if the CO2 emission targets for vehicles for the year 2030 were to be made tougher.”

CLEPA stands ready to contribute to the detailed design of the rules, regulations and definitions shaping the path ahead. For one, it will be important to keep the clear distinction between pollutant emissions and carbon emissions and to maintain the focus of the respective regulations.

CLEPA welcomes the Commission’s objective of designing a clear framework for artificial intelligence (AI).  “Artificial intelligence is a key enabler for the automotive industry’s digital transformation. AI can also contribute to reducing the impact of transport on the environment, and significantly improve road safety”, says De Vries.

CLEPA supports a horizontal AI legislation addressing only high-risk AI applications and ensuring a level playing field for all actors. These principles can be complemented with technical requirements in sector-specific regulations (either new or by modifying existing legislation), if deemed necessary.

Availability and access to data from connected vehicles is still often hampered, as the strategy correctly points out. A European Common Mobility Data Space is welcome in principle but further details on the design and objectives are required to assess its added value.

CLEPA welcomes the objective of automated mobility being deployed on a large scale by 2030 and calls on the European Commission to speed up processes to create a harmonised EU legal approach for highly-automated applications as a precondition for reaching this goal.

 

 

Stakeholders’ joint letter: Sustainable renewable fuels should be included in the EU mobility legislation

ON 30 NOVEMBER 2020, CLEPA TOGETHER WITH 38 ASSOCIATIONS AND COMPANIES, COLLABORATIVELY SIGNED AND SENT A LETTER, CALLING ON THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO INCLUDE SUSTAINABLE RENEWABLE FUELS IN EU MOBILITY LEGISLATION.

The signatories of this joint letter represent a crucial part of the automotive, fuel, energy industry and civil society in Europe, i.e. a combined force behind the transformation of EU mobility towards climate neutrality in a smart and sustainable way.

The European Union has set itself the ambitious objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050 and consequently raised its 2030 climate target. Whether the objective will be achieved and what impact this will have on EU competitiveness and employment strongly depends on the design of a suite of climate policies for the coming years. Transport and future mobility will be a central element of these policies. The EU’s long-term climate strategy cannot rely solely on the development of new technologies and infrastructures; it must embrace a diverse portfolio of solutions in parallel, including existing sustainable renewable liquid and gaseous fuel solutions that can reduce greenhouse gases starting today.

Against this ambition, the EU Commission will outline the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and revise important mobility and energy legislations, such as CO2 emissions standard for cars, vans and also heavy-duty vehicles. These upcoming revisions are the timely opportunity to implement a truly technology neutral approach by including the contribution to emissions reduction achieved using sustainable renewable fuels.

This recommendation aligns with the following principles, crucial to achieve a carbon neutral road transport sector in Europe:

  • Technology and fuel diversity towards 2050 – With increased climate targets there is added urgency for transport to accelerate its path towards net-zero emissions. To facilitate this acceleration, a broad portfolio of solutions is necessary to support the full spectrum of geographic, economic and vocational market demands. Considering the lack of a “one-size-fits-all solution”, it is imperative that all low carbon options, including alternative and renewable fuels, play a role in the energy transition not only on the existing fleet but also for new vehicles to curb the GHG emissions from the road transport sector across all the EU countries.
  • Coupling the efforts for the expansion of the sustainable renewable fuels market with further improvement of vehicle efficiency – Despite gains in fuel efficiency, increased demand for personal mobility and freight transport have led to increased CO2 emissions from road transport. It is necessary to leverage all available solutions to reverse this trend and accelerate the decarbonisation of the sector. Accelerating the production of sustainable renewable fuels, accompanied by continued development of a range of new vehicles optimised for these fuels, can have a climate-positive impact today via the existing and future vehicle fleet for both passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Enabling a competitive, sustainable market till 2050 – Many publications have shown that relying on full electrification alone will not result in climate neutrality in 2050. Products and solutions need to be placed according to their mission profile, where they are more necessary and accommodating the market demand. Conventional fuels and engine technologies provide a stream of revenues for vehicle manufacturers that can continuously be invested into alternative powertrains and solutions, according to the mission segment. As global players, vehicle manufacturers will maintain a central role in delivering innovative products, also in other parts of the world.
  • Integrating a growing rate of renewables in the market to practice the circular economy while seizing industrial opportunities – Sustainable renewable fuels technologies offer sectorial integration with the waste management and the agricultural sectors. This enables a clever approach to treat waste materials, which would have otherwise been disposed with the consequent emissions, while producing sustainable energy and, at the same time, high quality by-products like bio-fertiliser. This is a landmark example of circular economy targeting emissions in agriculture and waste. At the same time, the production of sustainable renewable fuel technologies involves a long value-chain, from renewable energy systems to components, taking place mostly in Europe. Sustainable renewable fuels value chain can contribute to create many new jobs and to maintain industrial leadership, while strengthening the cooperation with third-countries on innovative energy projects to speed up the energy transition.
  • System affordability – It is key to avert mobility poverty and to avoid a two-speed Europe while heading towards a carbon neutral mobility system. Being based on proven engine technologies and an already structured distribution network, sustainable renewable fuels are the most cost-efficient way to contribute to the decarbonisation process at the lowest possible cost to society. Besides the cost in relation to emission reductions, it is important to consider the impact on industrial competitiveness, innovation, affordability, and employment to ensure a fair transition for all European citizens.

Our industries are ready to contribute to a technology-open, ambitious but pragmatic regulatory framework to drive the decarbonisation of EU road transport.

 

Read the full letter here

 

2030 Climate plan: Technology openness holds key to climate neutrality

  • Automotive suppliers are in full support of climate neutrality by 2050
  • Any changes to vehicle targets for 2030 must take form in more comprehensive approach to regulating CO2 emissions
  • Disruption rather than transformation puts jobs and competitiveness at risk

in CLEPA, 16-09-2020


Sigrid de Vries, Secretary General of CLEPA, the association of the Automotive Suppliers’ Industry in Europe comments on today’s presentation by Commission President von der Leyen of the EU climate ambition until 2030:

“The automotive supply industry in Europe is a major force behind the transformation to sustainable, safe, and smart mobility. We support the Paris agreement and strive for a reliable, technology-neutral and ambitious regulatory framework to achieve its objectives.”

“Companies need the adequate conditions to manage the transformation that is unfolding. The magnitude and frequency of changes to these conditions and increasing regulatory interventions are a concern to industry. We are worried that the transformation will turn into a disruption of the sector’s capacity to innovate, invest and maintain employment. The risk of a substantial loss of employment is real. Suppliers are keen on delivering the technology solutions but stress the need for an honest debate about the effects of policy decisions.”

“The existing CO2 targets for vehicles have only been adopted in 2019 after a long and substantial debate. Planning and investment decisions have been taken with confidence in the reliability of the regulatory framework. An increased level of ambition for 2030, if coupled with stricter tailpipe targets for vehicles or possibly a ban on technologies, hampers industry competitiveness, requires massive public investment in infrastructure and makes mobility more expensive for citizens.”

“The Commission has not said much yet in concrete terms about the expansion of recharging and refuelling infrastructure. The programme for one million charging points is by far not enough, it would need to be upgraded along with the programmes in member states. Targets for e-fuels are missing. Already now, the deployment of charging and refuelling infrastructure does not keep pace with market penetration of alternative vehicles. We see many actions, but perhaps not enough strategy.“

“Suppliers have consistently argued for a more comprehensive approach to regulating emissions. In road transport all efficient and low or zero carbon solutions will be necessary and have to be effective in new vehicles but also the existing vehicle fleet. This includes battery electric vehicles, fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and efficient combustion engines, along with the necessary charging infrastructure and availability of renewable energy but also refuelling infrastructure and availability of renewable fuels, e-fuels, and hydrogen. Advanced renewable fuels are key to reducing emissions in the existing fleet and therefore a potentially much more effective lever than the regulation of new vehicles.”

“The economic and health challenges of the past months have reemphasised the role that transport has for society at large. We need to guarantee that the future will provide accessible and affordable mobility for all. Europe should make full use of its strengths, reinforcing its competitiveness, supporting its advanced technology competence and autonomy while securing its high value industrial base and employment. An open dialogue on how to best achieve the climate ambition, supported by a technology neutral and effective regulatory framework that rewards efficiency is necessary.”

 


 

About CLEPA

CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers based in Brussels, represents over 3.000 companies, from multi-nationals to SMEs, supplying state-of-the-art components and innovative technology for safe, smart and sustainable mobility, investing over 30 billion euros yearly in research and development. Automotive suppliers in Europe employ about five million people across the continent.

 

 

Only weeks left to save EU and UK auto sectors from €110 billion ‘no deal’ Brexit disaster

  • EU and UK automotive leaders unite to call for urgent agreement of an ambitious free trade deal before the end of the transition period in just 15 weeks’ time.
  • New calculations show the catastrophic impact of ‘no deal’ with WTO tariffs putting production of some 3 million EU and UK built cars and vans at risk over next five years.
  • ‘No deal’ would mean combined EU-UK trade losses worth up to €110 billion to 2025, on top of around €100 billion in lost production value so far this year because of coronavirus crisis.
  • To avoid second economic hit to sector employing 14.6 million people, industry calls for negotiators to secure a deal urgently that delivers zero tariffs, modern rules of origin and avoids different regulations across the channel.

in CLEPA, 14-09-2020


With just 15 weeks before the Brexit transition period expires, European automotive industry leaders have today joined forces to call for the EU and UK to secure an ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) without further delay. Negotiators on both sides must now pull out all the stops to avoid ‘no deal’ at the end of the transition, which according to new calculations would cost the pan-European automotive sector some €110 billion in lost trade over the next five years,putting jobs at risk in a sector that supports 14.6 million livelihoods, representing one in 15 of EU and UK jobs.2

The lead organisations representing vehicle and parts makers across the EU, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), along with 21 national associations, including the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles (CCFA),  La Plateforme automobile (PFA) and the Portuguese Manufacturers Association for the Automotive Industry (AFIA), are today warning that the sector could face severe repercussions. Indeed, economies and jobs on both sides of the channel are at risk of a second devastating hit in the shape of no deal coming on top of around €100 billion worth of production lost so far this year due to the coronavirus crisis.3

Without a deal in place by 31 December, both sides would be forced to trade under so-called World Trade Organisation (WTO) non-preferential rules, including a 10% tariff on cars and up to 22% on vans and trucks.4 Such tariffs – far higher than the small margins of most manufacturers – would almost certainly need to be passed on to consumers, making vehicles more expensive, reducing choice, and impacting demand. Furthermore, automotive suppliers and their products will be hit by tariffs. This will make production more expensive or will lead to more imports of parts from other competitive countries.

Before the coronavirus crisis hit, EU and UK production of motor vehicles was running at 18.5 million units a year. This year some 3.6 million units have already been lost across the sector due to the pandemic. New calculations suggest that, for cars and vans alone, a reduction in demand resulting from a 10% WTO tariff could wipe some three million units from EU and UK factory output over the next five years, with losses worth €52.8 billion to UK plants and €57.7 billion to those based across the EU. Suppliers would also suffer from these changes.

This combined loss in trade value would seriously harm revenues for a sector that is one of Europe’s most valuable assets, employing millions of people and generating shared prosperity for all, with a combined trade surplus of €74 billion with the rest of the world in 2019. Collectively, the EU27 and UK automotive sector is responsible for 20% of global motor vehicle production and spends some €60.9 billion on innovation per year, making it Europe’s largest R&D investor.

Achieving an ambitious EU-UK FTA with automotive-specific provisions is critical to the European automotive industry’s future success. Any deal should include zero tariffs and quotas, appropriate rules of origin for both internal combustion engine and alternatively fuelled vehicles, plus components and powertrains, and a framework to avoid regulatory divergence.

Crucially, businesses need detailed information about the agreed trading conditions they will face from 1 January 2021 to make final preparations. This, combined with targeted support and an appropriate a phase-in period that allows for greater use of foreign materials for a limited period of time, will ensure businesses are able to cope with the end of the transition period.

Eric-Mark Huitema, ACEA Director General, said: “The stakes are high for the EU auto industry – we absolutely must have an ambitious EU-UK trade agreement in place by January. Otherwise our sector – already reeling from the COVID crisis – will be hit hard by a double whammy.”

Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General, said: “A ‘no deal’ Brexit would disrupt the integrated automotive supply chain and hit industry at a critical moment. The impact will be felt far beyond the bilateral trade streams alone, translating into a loss of jobs and investment capacity. The automotive sector is the EU’s largest private R&D investor with €60 billion invested each year. We need a deal that maintains the sector’s global competitiveness.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These figures paint a bleak picture of the devastation that would follow a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The shock of tariffs and other trade barriers would compound the damage already dealt by a global pandemic and recession, putting businesses and livelihoods at risk. Our industries are deeply integrated so we urge all parties to recognise the needs of this vital provider of jobs and economic prosperity, and pull out every single stop to secure an ambitious free trade deal now, before it is too late.”

Hildegard Müller, President of VDA, said: “The automotive industry needs stable and reliable framework conditions. It would be to the great disadvantage of both sides if the UK withdrawal were to end with the application of tariffs in mutual trade. This would jeopardise closely linked value chains and possibly make them unprofitable. Our member companies have more than 100 production sites in the United Kingdom. We hope that the EU and the UK will continue their close partnership – with a comprehensive free trade agreement.”

Thierry Cognet, President of CCFA, said: “A ‘no deal’ situation on 1 January 2021 would be particularly challenging for manufacturers. What we need from negotiators, in an economic context already very affected by the COVID crisis, is a substantial deal protecting us from tariffs, quotas and regulatory divergence.”

José Couto, President of AFIA, said: “The automotive industry needs an agreement that maintains competitiveness and allows companies to continue trading with their UK partners. The UK is the 4th largest customer for automotive components manufactured in Portugal”.

The 23 automotive association signatories include:

  • ACAROM – Romanian Association of Automobile Builders www.acarom.ro
  • ACEA – European Automobile Manufacturers Association www.acea.be
  • ACS – Automotive Cluster of Slovenia www.acs-giz.si/en
  • AFIA – Portuguese Manufacturers Association for the Automotive Industry www.afia.pt
  • AIA – Czech Automotive Industry Association www.autosap.cz
  • ANFIA – Italian Association of the Automobile Industry www.anfia.it
  • AUTIG – Danish Automotive Trade & Industry Federation www.autig.dk
  • BIL SWEDEN – Swedish Association of Automobile Manufacturers and Importers www.bilsweden.se
  • CCFA – Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers www.ccfa.fr
  • CLEPA – European Association of Automotive Suppliers www.clepa.eu
  • FEBIAC – Belgian Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Industries www.febiac.be
  • FKG – Scandinavian Automotive Supplier Association www.fkg.se
  • FFOE – Austrian Association of the Automotive Industry www.fahrzeugindustrie.at
  • ILEA – Luxembourg Automotive Suppliers Association www.ilea.lu/
  • MGE – Hungarian Vehicle Importers Association www.mge.hu
  • PFA – French Association of the Automotive Industry www.pfa-auto.fr/
  • RAI – Dutch Association for Mobility Industry www.raivereniging.nl
  • SDCM – Polish Association of Automotive Parts Distributors and Producers www.sdcm.pl
  • SERNAUTO – Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers www.sernauto.es
  • SIMI – Society of the Irish Motor Industry www.simi.ie/en
  • SMMT – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders www.smmt.co.uk
  • TAYSAD – Automotive Suppliers Association of Turkey www.taysad.org.tr
  • VDA – German Association of the Automotive Industry www.vda.de
  • ZAP – Automotive Industry Association of the Slovak Republic www.zapsr.sk

 


Notes to editors

1: SMMT calculations covering cars and LCVs. Ave FX rate of Aug 2020 of £- € @1.110715. Based on imposition of 10% tariff = 6.3%
price rise = 18.9% drop in demand. Uses average new car and LCV prices based on JATO data.
2: ACEA pocket guide 2020 / 21
3: SMMT & ACEA calculations, IHS Markit LV Production Recovery Tracker (July 2020)
4: UK Global Tariff (10% for cars / vans) & EU Common External Tariff (10-22% dependent on category and tonnage)
5: ACEA pocket guide 2020 / 21 includes cars, vans and HGVs
6: ACEA pocket guide 2020 / 21 (passenger vehicles and LCVs only)
7: SMMT calculations covering cars and LCVs. Ave FX rate of Aug 2020 of £- € @1.110715. Based on imposition of 10% tariff = 6.3%
price rise = 18.9% drop in demand. Uses average new car and LCV prices based on JATO data.
8: ACEA pocket guide 2020 / 21

 

About the EU sector

  • 14.6 million Europeans work in automotive, accounting for 6.7% of all EU jobs.
  • Motor vehicle taxation brings in €440.4 billion for governments in major European markets
  • The automobile industry generates a trade surplus of €74 billion for the EU.
  • The turnover generated by the automotive industry represents over 7% of EU GDP.
  • Investing €60.9 billion in R&D annually, the automotive sector is Europe’s largest private contributor
    to innovation, accounting for 29% of total EU spending
  • EU leads the world when it comes to self-driving vehicles, responsible for more than 30% of all global
    patent applications.

 

About CLEPA

CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, represents over 3.000 companies supplying
state-of-the-art components and innovative technology for safe, smart and sustainable mobility, investing
over 30 billion euros yearly in research and development. Automotive suppliers in Europe directly and
indirectly employ nearly five million people across the continent.

 

 

NextGenerationEU: reality and ambition are bound to collide

EU leaders will gather next week for an additional EU Summit to try and come closer on the next 7-year EU budget and the additional special funds to be channelled into economic recovery. Dubbed NextGenerationEU, resilience seems to be the key concept behind much of the measures proposed, with the magic ingredient being investment.

in CLEPA, 10-07-2020


It is crucial that governments agree soon, because most of the funds will become available only next year or later, and further delay would be detrimental. The crisis is hitting the economy hard, and viable companies are already incurring serious damage.

Resilience—making Europe more self-sufficient and future proof—is used as explanation for why the proposed recovery package has all the features of a fundamental restructuring programme, aimed at propelling the EU’s environmental and digital transformation.

Are we talking recovery or reform?

“Are we talking recovery or reform”, asked a diplomat the other day, admittedly rhetorically. Many in industry had quietly thought the same. While the visionary appeal of the approach may be apparent and no-one questions the overarching need for going digital and green, the challenge remains to make it all work on the ground, where economies are in disarray.

The risk is that recovery and crisis relief are losing relevance as objectives in their own right, with their own set of requirements and, particularly, their need for speed.  How grave the situation is, can be illustrated well with the measure of global car sales which is predicted to remain 23% below last year in Europe and -17% globally: the equivalent of 14 million cars, which is more than the entire volume of new cars sold annually in European markets.

Risk is that recovery and crisis relief are losing relevance as objectives in their own right

These are unprecedented drops in sales and the underlying economic activity will take at least 2 to 3 years to recover. The latest CLEPA Pulse Check, taking the temperature of the European automotive supply industry specifically, shows that half of European suppliers expect revenue declines of more than 20% in 2020 and a further third reckon with a drop of more than 30%. Although profit estimates have slightly improved compared to April, only 39% of suppliers are confident in achieving a profit in 2020.

European suppliers are increasingly taking long-term measures, with 62% indicating their implementation of such measures has started and 13% saying they’re already completed. Cutting investment and headcount rank as number one and two, but suppliers are also increasingly looking at shortening supply chains, sourcing in, optimising the manufacturing footprint, and opting for partnerships, mergers and takeovers and adapting their product portfolios.

 

Heavy pressure on investment capacity does not bode well for ability to drive necessary transformation

The heavy pressure on investment capacity does not bode well for the ability to drive the necessary transformation, which industry had started full throttle before Covid hit. The revenues to finance these investments will have to materialise, and this is where reality and ambition are bound to collide. Industry needs the framework conditions to thrive and invest.

NextGenerationEU, the European Green Deal and the Digital Agenda are declared economic growth strategies, designed to invest public money as a lever for even larger sums of private investment. Because this is clear: the green and digital transformation needs industry to deliver them, and most of the funding will have to come from businesses. Careful management by both policy makers and business will be necessary to get it right.

The European Commission has firmly put the ball in the court of the member states. While the heads of state must still agree on the actual sums to be allocated, national capitals are already asked to hand in their national recovery plans by October, in order to start discussions on approval of the content soon. National packages, hence, will decide the level and scope of support for truly European industries, such as automotive.

Need for European approach on levels below the visionary as well

No doubt, the EU is a complex animal. Most funds come from national pockets, and many policy competences are still national. Yet, the Commission is the guardian of the EU project and has many instruments at its disposal, including soft policy such as guidance on and coordination of best practices, that can make a difference in putting the framework right, especially but not only in support of smaller and mid-sized countries.

The automotive industry is crucial for the economic fabric of Europe. The sector is vast, innovative, with long value chains and strong eco-systems; a textbook example of how European integration and the internal market have helped make the European economy more competitive and, yes, resilient. What is needed now, is leadership and clearer directions for ensuring a European approach on levels below the visionary as well.

 

Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General