SMMT strengthens UK auto dialogue with EU in Brussels

21 January 2015 #SMMT News
  • SMMT holds reception with senior politicians in Brussels.
  • Keynote delivered by Lord Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.
  • Re-launch of European Commission CARS 2020 initiative announced with Automotive Council cited as an exemplar.
  • Event follows 2014 SMMT report into UK automotive companies’ views on EU membership.

Industry trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) flew the flag for the UK automotive sector this evening with a parliamentary reception in Brussels.

The reception brought together senior automotive industry executives, UK and EU government officials, MEPs and representatives of the European Commission. A keynote speech was delivered by Lord Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, in which he announced the re-launch of the European Commission’s CARS 2020 initiative.

Also speaking at the event were Glenis Willmott MEP, Syed Kamall MEP and Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.

Initially tabled in 2012 by the European Commission, CARS 2020 aims to boost the competitiveness and sustainability of the EU automotive sector towards the end of the decade. The initial stage was completed in October 2014, but the re-launch signals the Commission’s intent to deliver further progress. Delivering the announcement, Lord Hill referred to the UK’s Automotive Council – formed in 2009 as a means for government and industry to work together to establish UK automotive as a world leader – as a model that other EU Member States could adopt.

The event presented a key opportunity to demonstrate the strength and importance of the UK automotive industry to European colleagues, and to emphasise how having a strong voice in Europe is critical to the continuing success of the UK automotive sector.

The EU accounts for around half of all UK vehicle exports, with well over half a million UK-built cars sold there in 2014. This is set to rise in coming years on the back of continued investment into UK production facilities. The UK is now the third largest car manufacturer in Europe, behind Germany and Spain.

New car registrations in the EU grew 5.7% in 2014. The UK remains its second largest market – behind Germany and ahead of France, Italy and Spain, and recorded the second-largest growth of these top five markets in 2014.

In 2014 SMMT published a report into its members’ views on the UK in Europe. The UK Automotive Industry and the EU found the following:

  • Access to the single market, integrated European supply chains, EU innovation funding, free movement of labour and the ability to influence harmonised technical regulations and product standards are key EU benefits.
  • 92% of automotive companies believe that staying in the EU would be best for their business, with majority seeking a reform agenda.
  • Almost 70% believe that a withdrawal from Europe would negatively impact their business in the medium-to-long-term.
  • Reform remains high on the agenda – especially the need to reduce complexity, encourage financial reform and consistently apply regulations.

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