Commission and OECD present recommendations to help EU countries and regions achieve industrial transition

Today the Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) present a report on an initiative launched in 2017 to help 12 EU regions and Member States achieve industrial transition and hold their own in a globalised economy.

Teams of OECD and Commission experts worked with the regions and the two Member States to identify what was holding back job creation and growth in these areas. The goal was to reinforce their long-term development strategies based on areas of competitive strength – their ‘smart specialisation‘ assets. These strategies encompass social fairness, economic modernisation and climate ambitions.

Based on this experience, the report presents a toolkit for national and regional authorities, providing concrete solutions to address obstacles to industrial transition in five main priorities.

Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Enlargement Negotiations and Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: “Prosperity and well-being at EU level start in our regions. For two years, teams of Commission and OECD experts have worked hand in hand with national and local actors to help them embrace innovation, decarbonisation, digitalisation and develop the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. These are the four cardinal points of a transition that gives a fair chance to everyone.”

Here are the five main priorities identified by the Commission and examples of related policy challenges and responses presented in the report:

1)       Preparing for the jobs of tomorrow

Challenge: Lack of skilled workers for emerging economic sectors.

Policy responses: anticipate skills needs for industrial transition; strengthen companies’ capacity to address their human resource needs; involve local stakeholders in the planning and design of regional skills initiatives.

2)       Broadening and diffusing innovation

Challenge: Lack of innovation capacity in small and medium businesses.

Policy responses: accelerate the digital transformation; expand business innovation networks and support clusters; strengthen links between academia and local business spheres.

3)       Promoting entrepreneurship and private sector engagement

Challenge: Limited access to entrepreneurship skills and networks for start-ups and scale-ups.

Policy responses: support entrepreneurs with information, training, coaching and mentoring, strengthen entrepreneurial networks, increase start-up and SME participation in collaborative research.

4)       Transitioning towards a climate-neutral economy

Challenge: Reconciling the long-term dimension of a climate-neutral transition with short-term economic action.

Policy responses: foster local energy transitions through financial support schemes; integrate the transition to a climate-neutral economy into larger regional development strategies.

5)       Promoting inclusive growth

Challenge: Spatial disparities and territorial linkages.

Policy responses: encourage territorial co-operation through rural-urban partnerships; ensure digital connectivity and digital services in remote regions.

This report and its recommendations will feed into the preparation of the future 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy programmes, under which more than €90 billion of funding is available for research, innovation, digitalisation and support to small and medium businesses.


Globalisation has brought enormous benefits to the less-developed economies of the world and many opportunities for Europeans; but while the benefits are widely spread, the costs are often borne unevenly. Many European regions face job losses linked to the decline of traditional industries. To take up the challenge of economic modernisation, Europe needs to empower its regions and help them create value. This means embracing innovation, digitisation, decarbonisation and developing people’s skills.

In July 2017, the Commission presented a Communication on ‘Strengthening innovation in EU regions’ and launched two initiatives: one on industrial transition, which final results are presented today, and one on setting interregional partnership for innovation. Participating regions and Member States were selected to work in partnership with teams of experts from the Commission and the OECD to boost their innovation capacity, remove investment barriers, equip workers with the right skills and prepare for industrial and societal change.