The energy intensive industry (EII) in the EU is currently facing climate change, innovation and skills challenges.
That’s according to Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, who was speaking at the High-Level Conference on EII in Brussels.
She said the sector plays a key role in meeting EU targets as it accounts for a quarter of CO2 emissions in the region.
Ms Bieńkowska added: “But at the same time, I know how important energy costs are for your competitiveness… So a key challenge is to meet our targets without hurting our competitiveness and part of that is ensuring competitive energy prices and secure energy suppliers.”
However she believes new technologies are needed to tackle the challenge.
She said the 2% invested in research and development in the continent is not enough compared to other countries such as the US.
She went on: “The Commission is fully committed to investment and innovation. This is the cornerstone to our investment plan for Europe. EU instruments like the European Fund for Strategic Investments can help bringing new competitive innovations to our industry.”
According to Ms Bieńkowska, the industry also needs people who are able to drive these changes and ensure the success of the EII.
She said: “We have to ensure the supply of highly-skilled scientists, technologists, innovators and managers and we have to have the skilled workers to use those technologies, make those products or implement those business models.
“A more competitive industry with more jobs and more growth. The European business community – large and small – has everything it needs to respond and the public sector can use the tools at its disposal.”
In December, the UK was granted permission by the EU to provide state aid compensation to the nation’s EIIs for the cost of green taxes.