Industry ministers meet in Genk as protectionism threatens EU's single market

The European single market is regarded as one of the bloc's greatest achievements. But protectionist policies, both inside and outside the EU, are threatening the continent's industry. That is why industry ministers are meeting in Genk to consider the future of the single market and European industry.

Belgium's governments are currently trying to persuade ArcelorMittal to invest in the greening of its plant in Ghent, De Tijd writes on Friday. Seduced by French subsidies, the steel giant is considering investing in its Dunkirk plant instead: France would subsidise up to half of the project, Flanders only 25 per cent.

"If we support companies, it should be to keep industry in Europe, not to compete with each other. Then we all lose"

Flanders is struggling to keep companies investing in the region. Last summer, several companies chose to expand their plants in France rather than in Flanders. And this week, unions announced that Audi would not produce the latest version of the Q8 e-tron at its Brussels plant, the only model currently produced there.

Protectionist measures from outside the EU also threaten the bloc's industry. America's Inflation Reduction Act gives 369 billion dollars in subsidies to companies that produce in the US. And Europe's electric car manufacturers cannot compete with Chinese subsidies that fund companies that operate at heavy losses.

Proactive policy

EU industry ministers are meeting in Genk to discuss these issues. They will debate a more proactive policy that would strengthen European industry and deepen the single market. Based on the discussions, the Belgian presidency of the EU will formulate policy recommendations and submit them to the European Commission.

Strengthening the competitiveness of European industry is one of Belgium's priorities during its six-month presidency of the EU. "If we support companies, it should be to keep industry in Europe, not to compete with each other. Then we all lose," says Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo.


#FlandersNewsService | The ArcelorMittal production plant in Ghent © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

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