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IPC’s advocacy efforts in Europe have grown significantly over the past few years. At this stage, we are not only raising awareness for the needs of the electronics industry but also advancing the interests of our members through face-to-face meetings with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), high-level officials in the European Commission, and representatives of key EU Member States. During my recent visit to Brussels at the end of January, I met with a number of these stakeholders and decision-makers to address top IPC priorities, such as the EU industrial policy, R&D tax incentives and conflict minerals rules.
In meetings with MEPs, European Commission officials and Member State representatives, IPC called for an ambitious, long-term EU industrial policy. IPC welcomes the Communication on a renewed EU industrial policy strategy published last September by the European Commission, which touches upon the need for substantial investments in advanced manufacturing, a skilled and talented workforce, and research and innovation. The Communication constitutes a good first step; however, IPC is advocating for a longer-term vision to provide our industry with better understanding and predictability. At the core of such a vision should be education and training, which are crucial to close the skills gap in the advanced manufacturing sector. Many of our members have experienced difficulties recruiting a skilled workforce in the EU, and the challenge for our industry is to remain attractive. Vocational training and lifelong learning are keys to re-skilling workers to qualify for available jobs.
IPC is also promoting an ambitious EU industrial policy that protects intellectual property and prevents counterfeit products in the supply chain. In this context, we are encouraged by the European Commission’s recent commitment to stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights. The IP package, published at the end of November, includes a number of positive initiatives, such as the call for effective and predictable civil redress against IP infringements, which would benefit SMEs by facilitating their access to justice.
Also important to a strong industrial policy are favorable R&D tax incentives to promote investment in innovation, which is crucial for the electronics industry to remain competitive in a fast-paced environment. IPC has taken the opportunity in our meetings with EU decision-makers to promote our position paper on the current EU corporate tax base proposals (CCTB and CCCTB). As the electronics industry is one of the most dynamic in the EU, ranking among the highest in terms of industrial R&D investment as well as filing the highest number of patents, it is highly dependent on innovation.
Rounding off the week of meetings in Brussels, IPC had a very informative meeting with the European Commission on conflict minerals. The new rules under the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation will apply as of 1 January 2021, making due diligence for EU importers of 3TG minerals and metals mandatory when annual import volumes exceed a certain threshold. In contrast to U.S. rules under the “Dodd-Frank” law, this regulation’s scope is global. IPC is currently reviewing its cross-industry Conflict Minerals Data Exchange Standard (IPC-1755) for appropriate revisions to support voluntary reporting under the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation. IPC remains in close collaboration with the European Commission on this effort.
Altogether, IPC remains committed to advancing our members’ interests in the EU. We are continuously looking for your input in our advocacy work, and we are currently developing a position paper on EU industrial policy to be launched in time for the EU Industry Day on 22-23 February.
Our efforts in Europe throughout the year are also paving the way for our third annual IMPACT Europe event, taking place in Brussels this fall. This will be a unique opportunity to engage with European policy makers and discuss EU policies affecting your business. Stay tuned for more details.