Luca de Meo, ACEA President and CEO of Renault Group, presented the ACEA’s Manifesto for the EU’s next five-year term during a hybrid press conference in Brussels. In his address, de Meo strongly urged for a comprehensive approach to the challenges faced by the automotive industry. He also emphasised the significance of engaging in constructive dialogues with all public stakeholders.
De Meo began his speech highlighting the regulatory changes that face the automotive industry in the coming years. “I think that Europe and its automotive industry are now at a turning point and the next Parliament and Commission are going to play a pivotal role.” De Meo stated. “A tsunami of regulatory challenges is arriving in the next few years. A lot of EU commitments have a deadline in 2030 or before.”
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The EU commitments De Meo cited included the Net-Zero Industry Act, Critical Raw Materials Act, PFAS regulations, CO2 standards, the large batteries regulation and the General Safety Regulation coming into force. “It is, therefore, crucial that we all take the time now to look at these commitments very carefully. We must look at whether they are achievable or not, and at which cost. And we must move on quickly, implementing concrete actions.” He went on to urge all those involved to have strong conversations based on facts, and bring everyone around the table including those with direct knowledge, those who will be paying the cost and those who implement the regulations.
The ACEA, stated De Meo, believes the automotive industry is part of the solution. “We have been striving to put facts and seriousness into the thing, making ACEA more connected to the whole mobility ecosystem, more assertive, and talking to the public opinion, not only to policy makers. With the perspective of the new parliament and commission, we felt it was necessary to accelerate and take a step further.”
He went on to state the ACEA’s belief that Europe needs a holistic approach when it comes to facing automotive industry challenges, as opposed to the sometimes conflicting regulations which have been implemented, such as phasing out internal combustion engines (ICEs) and then pushing for new regulations on ICE with Euro 7. “When we have eight new regulation events coming up each year until 2030, on average, it should ring a bell, telling us that there’s a bug somewhere in the system!”
“Actually, it’s the whole software that we have to change. I think it’s getting clearer every day that we need a truly cohesive industrial policy,” de Meo stated. “If you look at our global competitors, you see that they are very good at doing it. So, we propose to look at things from a 360º perspective, encompassing the entire value chain, from upstream to downstream. In other words, beyond traditional industry boundaries, with a comprehensive view of the real issues. Because the real issues now cut across the classic sectors: automotive, mining, energy, infrastructure industry, etc.”
“Another key idea that we want to push is that Europe must not only ensure that we are as well-equipped as the others are – it must also ensure that we are competitive on a global level playing field. Competition is a very healthy thing, we think, and true competition also means fairness and reciprocity,” he continued.
He also emphasised that technology neutrality should be a guiding principle when it comes to framing mobility of the future. The focus should be put on CO2, pollution, noise and congestion, and not one single technology over another.
By working on a Europe-wide scale to produce zero-emission vehicles, these problems may be tackled more thoroughly, all whilst creating jobs and enabling resource protection through increased research. This collaboration, de Meo believes, would also ensure competitiveness in the market and the creation of suitable infrastructure to support, for example, EV charging.
De Meo concluded by saying that this manifesto was a call to action to individual stakeholders and candidates, but also local and national authorities, as well as the EU itself, to work with organisations such as the ACEA in answering questions about what EU citizens should expect in future.