Bio-based raw materials and products must be taken into account in the industrial strategy
The primary aim of the European industrial strategy, launched in spring 2020, is a transition towards sustainable industrial transformation in line with climate goals, and a comprehensive digital transition, which supports all sectors of society. The strategy is based on the following constituents: sustainable industry to support a green and competitive economy, renewed partnership between industry, the EU, Member States and other key stakeholders, horizontal strategic elements, including fully digitalised internal markets, acceleration of private investments, development of competence required for renewal, free and fair trade, and key value chains of strategic importance to Europe (IPCEI).
Transition to a carbon-neutral economy, in the spirit of the Green Deal, is another broadly cross-cutting and steering goal of the new EU industrial strategy. Several packages of measures to achieve the goal are defined in the strategy. Investments in research, development, innovation and infrastructure to create business models based on clean technologies and circular economy principles are highlighted. Simultaneously, the aim is to utilise public financial tools to accelerate the necessary private investments. The measures to be taken to facilitate the rapid market launch and deployment of technologies include reviewing the functionality of EU legislation on industrial property rights, and efforts to level out the playing field of international trade by, for example, enhancing the efficiency of customs control and other instruments that regulate trade.
To alleviate the challenges relating to the sustainable transition, the EU will invest in, among other things, the production of the necessary expertise and mobility, creation of a positive growth and investment environment for businesses of all sizes, and the availability of raw materials, data and competitively priced energy.
Digitalization plays an important role in the industrial strategy, because it is regarded as a key precondition for competitiveness and sustainability in all sectors. For the practical implementation of digitalization, the EU will develop education, training and skills, review legislation relating to digitalization, data transfer and use, and continue the development of the Digital Innovation Hub concept. The EU will develop a separate European Data Strategy to govern the measures.
The strategy offers no direct footholds for the forest industry. References to bio-based raw materials, products or industries are mostly absent in the strategy. Instead, the strategy is largely based on strategic value chains identified through the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) process. These refer primarily to energy-intensive
industries (concrete, steel and energy), intelligent transport, artificial intelligence and other so-called key technologies, cybersecurity, health care and defence and space technology. In this context, the role of bioeconomy has become almost invisible in the definition of the EU’s strategic policies. The concept has been replaced with the broader concept of circular economy. The forest industry should be promoted as a pioneer in circular economy and a provider of sustainable solutions for many other sectors.