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Industrial policy

Horizon 2050: a competitive low-carbon economy

In March 2011 the European Commission published its Roadmap for the transition towards a competitive low carbon economy by 2050. This document provides CO2 emissions targets and pathways for different sectors such as buildings, transport, industry and electricity generation in order to achieve the EU goals of reducing by 80% overall GHG emission by 2050.

In particular, the Roadmap sets out a 90% CO2 emission reduction target for the buildings sector by improving the energy performance of the built environment. The Roadmap also lays down the objective of a 83% to 87% reduction of GHG emissions from the industry by 2050 by way of advanced industrial processes, the increase of recycling and the development of carbon and capture storage technology.

The Roadmap for a transition to a competitive low carbon economy provides a direction for Europe and defines a horizon for Europe's industry, decision makers and society at large to embrace. It also acknowledges the need to develop sector specific solutions in cooperation with the sectors concerned.

Europe's flat glass industry hears that message and, as of now, sets itself on a path to maximise its contributions to the European 2050 ambitions. This is the purpose of the Flat glass industry's contribution to a competitive low carbon economy.

An industrial policy for the EU

In October 2012, the European Commission published an updated version of the EU Industrial Policy, which aims at the reindustrialisation of the European economy. To that end, the Commission proposed to focus investment and policy measures on the six sectors considered as essential to putting the Europe economy on the road to recovery and growth, including sustainable construction.

The Commission paper acknowledges the strong growth potential of investments in energy efficiency of existing buildings and also highlights the necessity to develop EU-wide markets for waste recycling and move towards a closed economy.

The strategy proposed by the European Commission reflects the flat glass industry's strong conviction that sustainable construction and energy renovation of buildings should become primary drivers of the transition towards a competitive low carbon economy.

However, Glass for Europe's remains convinced that enhancing the competitiveness of EU-based industries, both within and outside the EU single market, requires ensuring a level playing field between EU industries and their third countries competitors.

To feed into this debate and the European Commission‘s thinking about an updated industrial policy, Glass for Europe presented its manifesto for 2015-2020 called ‘Glass for Europe’s Industrial Renaissance’.

Sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector

The construction sector plays a key role in the European economy, generating almost 10% of the EU's GDP and provides 20 million jobs. Because of its economic weight and its high sensitivity to the evolutions of the economic environment the performance of the construction sector is affected by the shape of the overall economy, but also influences the development of the overall economy. This explains why the construction sector is severely hit by the current economic and financial crisis, but also why the recovery of the construction sector is fundamental to the recovery of the overall European economy.

In the meantime, the construction sector has a crucial role to play in reaching the EU 2050 CO2 emissions reduction objectives and in particular in delivering sustainable buildings and construction works.

Against this background, the Commission published in July 2012 a Communication on the strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and its enterprises, which identifies the main challenges the sector faces today. This Communication proposes a strategy to ensure the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector which aims to stimulate investments in the construction sector, enhance the international competitiveness of EU construction enterprises and improve the environmental performance of the sector.

The flat glass industry welcomes this EU strategy. Glass for Europe is taking part to the EU forum on sustainable competitiveness of the construction industry created ever since to facilitate the successful implementation of this strategy.