Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 24, 2011 – Ford of Europe Chairman and CEO Stephen Odell has called for a clear and robust European strategy to improve the global competitiveness of Europe’s volume auto industry. He also urged decisive political leadership to take the tough decisions necessary to maintain the integrity of the Eurozone, reduce volatility in the markets and rebuild consumer and confidence, even if the actions are painful in the short term.
Odell, who was speaking today in the European Parliament at the First Anniversary Conference on EU Commission Vice-President Tajani’s Europe 2020 Industrial Policy Flagship initiative, said:
“We need to enhance the global competitiveness of Europe’s volume auto industry. EU regulation must be holistic in its outlook and ambitious; but not over-ambitious to the point where the equation for manufacturing in the EU becomes negative. That’s why we strongly support the principles of better regulation, including the need to ensure that any regulation is cost-efficient and does not undermine competitiveness, and that the cumulative cost of regulation is taken into account.
“We want to encourage the EU to focus more resources on advanced technologies so that the European volume auto industry can remain at the forefront of technological developments. On transport policy, we need a positive vision of the future which promotes a portfolio approach and sets ambitious – but realistic – objectives in the areas of environment, energy and safety.
“Trade policy also is important in this strategy. One-sided trade deals undermine the competitiveness of the European auto industry, creating an obstacle to future automotive investment. While it’s been said that R&D might remain in Europe even if manufacturing moved away from Europe, in reality there is absolutely no reason why R&D wouldn’t also migrate.
“We therefore need a manufacturing-driven trade strategy which embraces only those potential partners who genuinely adhere to the principles of free and fair trade. We also need to find effective ways to dismantle non-tariff barriers to trade, not just official tariff barriers; we should require that trading partners support market-based currency policies; and we need the dismantling of restrictions on the export and supply of raw materials.
“The automotive industry is a major employer right across the EU, generating approximately 2.3 million direct and over 10 million related jobs – that is over 12 million families dependent on our industry for their livelihoods. At a time of rising unemployment and increasing social discontent on our continent, we cannot afford to be complacent about the competitiveness of our manufacturing industry.”
Odell also supported EU Commission Vice-President Tajani’s Industrial Policy Communication, including its call for an industrial policy dimension in all EU policies, including environment and trade policy, and ensuring new legislation does not undermine competitiveness. Odell called for the Industrial policy Communications to be implemented swiftly.
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Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.