VDA recommendations for European elections

    Focus on competitiveness and economic strength to ensure global relevance and scope for action

    Berlin, May 23, 2024

    Regulatory hurdles must be removed and innovations promoted – focus on framework conditions for achieving goals – more intensive dialogue between industry and politics necessary

    At the beginning of June, Europe will elect a new parliament and with it the political guidelines of the European community of values and economics. "Europe is the promise of democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity. It is now all the more necessary for Europe to remember its strengths so that the European success story can continue," explains VDA President Hildegard Müller. "Now the focus must be on attractiveness of locations and competitiveness. This is the basis for employment, growth and prosperity in Europe - and has been neglected for far too long. The need to catch up is enormous – and good strategic policy is the best answer to populists and extremists." The Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) has presented recommendations for the European elections.

    Competitiveness as a basis for European success stories

    The European automotive industry employs a good 2.4mn people, and a total of 13mn European jobs depend on the automotive sector. It is a European industry that competes with other regions. In order for the European Union to remain an attractive location for companies, both the internal market must be deepened and Europe as an industrial location must be strengthened. The European industrial location is currently confronted with both external and internal challenges. The latter are manifested, for example, by a high level of regulation, extensive documentation and reporting requirements, lengthy approval and coordination procedures and the associated high bureaucratic hurdles. Hildegard Müller: "Regulatory hurdles must be removed and innovation promoted. A more intensive dialogue between industry and politics is necessary in order to develop practical solutions and remove obstacles. The German automotive industry expects European politics to reduce burdens instead of adding more and more of it."

    Müller: "The European Commission should have the courage again to define an ambitious growth target - just as there is a target for climate protection. By defining such a goal, a self-commitment will evolve, creating both real pressure to act and public and political attention for the need to strengthen European industry." In addition, Europe must finally address its weaknesses as an industrial location by increasing the energy supply, competitive taxes and expenses as well as by creating new trade and raw materials partnerships.

    Calling for EU agenda for free and fair trade

    On the international stage, the EU must advocate for open markets more clearly and decisively. There is a need for an active EU agenda for free and fair trade. De-risking, i.e. diversification, is only possible with a dense network of agreements. The German automotive industry expects more pragmatism in the negotiations of free trade and investment agreements. A strong network of agreements is a prerequisite for maintaining economic strength and prosperity, diversifying supply chains, securing raw material and energy supplies and reducing strategic dependencies. It is also important to overcome existing challenges through dialogue and primarily strive for partnership-based formats and solutions. "Only a strong industry capable of exporting will be able to master the major challenges of green and digital transformation," the VDA President emphasizes.

    In order to achieve the ambitious climate protection goals, the economic conditions must be suitable. Only a transformation to climate neutrality that preserves the industrial base and thus the prosperity of the citizens can be successful.

    Müller: "With a view to enabling climate-neutral mobility, it is crucial that Berlin and Brussels enable the goal to be achieved and create the necessary foundations so that the climate-friendly vehicles we develop can actually be on the roads. This means that the charging and H2 filling infrastructure across the EU in particular needs to be expanded much more than before. We continue to strongly advocate for a technology-open approach to achieve the climate goals. The focus is clearly on electromobility, as shown by the investments and innovations of our manufacturers and suppliers." At the same time, it is important not to exclude any technology. With regard to the vehicle stock in Europe and worldwide, renewable fuels can make a decisive contribution to defossilizing the existing fleet and thus to achieving climate goals in the transport sector.

    One thing is clear: the automotive industry is undergoing the greatest transformation in its history. The switch from combustion engines to alternative drives, digitalization and sustainable production must be successfully mastered at the same time. "Every day I see with how much determination, commitment and ambition our companies face this enormous challenge. They need the air to breathe, the right political support and the right regulatory framework," Müller emphasizes.

    Don't leave Europe to the populists

    "The fact that the EU needs to be reformed in some areas and that there is a lot to do in terms of political framework is undisputed and a task for the next legislature. However, this must not mean that the EU itself is questioned," the VDA President said. "We now need a solution-oriented policy that provides security."

    Müller: "The EU provides all Europeans with many advantages: freedom of movement, consumer protection, a large internal market, political and economic stability. Above all, Europe means one thing: peace. That's why the importance of the 2024 European elections cannot be overestimated. Therefore, my request to all citizens is: go vote! Use your voice, don’t give your voice away to populists who don’t offer sustainable solutions."

    Note for editors: You can download the EU election recommendations here.

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