Speech by Commissioner Breton at the EU Industry Days

Good morning,

I am delighted to address you at the start of today’s session of Industry Days, devoted to the green and digital transition of our EU industrial ecosystems.

A clear green and digital ambition

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our ambition is clear. We want to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. We have set ambitious digital targets for the decade to come.

Let’s be realistic: the twin transition is challenging. It is costly. It requires new skills. It presupposes access to abundant, affordable energy. And the list goes on.

And yet, I am confident. We have undeniable assets: a skilled workforce, cutting-edge research institutes and universities, first-rate infrastructures and, of course, our Single Market as the backbone.

And we can do this together, accompanying the transition ecosystem by ecosystem, taking into account their specific needs thanks to the transition pathways you have been discussing.

Resilience, the third transition

Ladies and gentlemen,

Besides the green and digital transition, allow me to focus on a third aspect for our industrial transition: resilience.

The crisis has shown that we need to build resilience into our supply chains and our key enabling technologies.

Until recently, many believed that in our globalised world, supply chains were unshakeable; that there was no such thing as shortages. This idea has been shattered. “China First” for masks, and then “America First” for vaccines, have been a wake-up call for Europe.

We are experiencing this new reality well beyond the health crisis. Take the current shortage of semi-conductors, the energy crisis, our dependences on raw materials or the sharp price increase on timber.

We have also become more aware that our green and digital “industrial revolution” presupposes that we master disruptive technologies in strategic areas such as batteries, hydrogen, semiconductors, data, or cybersecurity.

Time has come for Europe to take its economic and industrial destiny in hand.

I believe in a Europe that leads on the markets of the future, not one that is a mere subcontractor. A “factory” Europe that creates jobs and gives itself the means to cater for its own needs but also to conquer world markets and export.

It is not a question of wanting to produce everything in Europe, but of diversifying our sources of supply, and securing the entire supply chain.

For two years now, Europe has been updating its software, so to speak, building a more assertive industrial policy, open to the world yet on our terms.

Let me give you an overview of what we are doing to:

1. Understand and reduce our dependencies;

2. Increase our production capacity and diversify our sources of supply;

3. Better anticipate and manage supply shortages in times of crisis.

Understanding and reducing our dependencies

The starting point of course is to have a good understanding of the products, services and technologies where we are overly dependent on sometimes only one country.

Following our first in-depth analysis of Europe’s dependencies last May, in a few weeks, we will present our findings in additional key areas, such as solar panels, cybersecurity, construction products or streaming services.

Increase our production capacity and diversify our sources of supply

  • Knowing our vulnerabilities is good. Acting upon them is better.
  • We have very positive experience diversifying our sources of supply, for example through the strategic partnerships on raw materials that we have built with Ukraine and Canada – soon with other countries. 
  • In parallel, we must also enhance Europe’s own capacity and innovative power in strategic areas. 
  • Industrial alliances have proven to be a very effective tool that is already yielding tangible results: on batteries, for example, Europe has invested three times more than China in the last few years, with 20 mega-fabs coming up; on hydrogen, we now have a pipeline of 750 projects ready to emerge by 2030. A number of very relevant IPCEIs are in the making.

And we are supporting this ambitious investment policy with a favourable regulatory framework.

I have in mind last year’s proposal on batteries, which can reinforce Europe’s sustainable battery value chain.

Or the new approach to standardisation which I presented last week, so we put European public interest back in the driving seat.

Or our various legislative initiatives on hydrogen definition, networks and certification.

And of course, horizontal instruments on foreign direct investments or foreign subsidies

Better anticipate and manage supply shortages in times of crisis

Ladies and gentlemen,

Understanding and addressing our dependencies is essential. But we also need to better anticipate and manage supply shortages in times of crisis.

With the EU Chips Act, which we presented two days ago, Europe can become a leader in the production of next generation semiconductors, which are essential both for the green and the digital transition. And we are improving our toolbox to anticipate and respond to shortages and crises in this strategic sector to shore up our security of supply.

But beyond measures specific to certain sectors, we also need a structural reflection on how to be better equipped for the next crisis which, whatever its nature, may cause major shocks to demand or supply, affecting our industries and fragmenting our single market. 

We are therefore working on an emergency instrument for the single market, with two main components: better preparation, and a reinforced capacity to react in case of crisis. In doing so, I am looking carefully at the measures that our international partners have already put in place to become more responsive and stronger in defending their interests.

It is time to have a discussion, without naivety, and without taboos, on the toolbox we need to guarantee our security of supply for our most critical value chains in case of crisis.


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am convinced that Europe has never been so united in its desire to take its destiny in hand and to put industry and the single market back at the heart of its priorities.

I wish you all an inspiring day and look forward to the feedback from your discussions.