View from Paris: Industry perspectives on priority EU reforms for the 2024-2029 legislative mandate
Text | Alexandre Millet
Date | 19 March 2024
Read | 4 min
Alexandre Millet
In France, the 2024 European Parliament election is scheduled to be held on 9 June 2024. This note aims to summarise the French industry perspective on these elections and the required priority European Union (EU) reforms.
Autonomy and transition at the heart of the French industry’s preoccupations

According to a survey conveyed by the Direction Générale des Enterprises (DGE) and published on Tuesday 12 March by the French Ministry of the Economy, French businesses expect the next European Commission to focus on the “strategic autonomy” of the 27 EU member states. Specifically, 76% of respondents expect European policies to ensure the strategic autonomy and technological leadership of the EU. This first preoccupation is in line with the priorities of French President Emmanuel Macron, who regularly stresses the need to strengthen Europe’s independence from the United States and China.

Of equal importance to French industry will be the expectation that the EU’s executive will continue to focus on the ecological transition. 64% of the respondents called for a “transition towards a circular economy that is low-carbon and respects biodiversity”.

The desire to evolve in a Europe that simplifies norms and protects businesses from unfair international competition

Three quarters of the companies that responded to this survey called on the Commission to “evolve the conception methods of public policies”. Moreover, 60% called for it to focus “on implementing existing legislation by simplifying it”. According to the testimonies gathered, entrepreneurs consider the EU to be a source of “too many constraints” and “disconnected from economic and scientific reality”. On this topic, Bercy pointed out that France and Germany have been working towards administrative simplification since last year.

There is also a considerable concern (expressed by 49% of respondents) about unfair competition from third countries, and particularly Asia. “The consultation carried out by the DGE confirms companies’ expectations of a Europe that simplifies and protects our businesses”, reacted French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

The sectorial priorities for the next EU legislative term

Tech and digital sector

Cigref, a network of major French companies and public administrations committed to the development of digital technology, published a position paper alongside three other European associations (Beltug in Belgium, CIO Platform Nederland in the Netherlands and Voice in Germany) on the regulation of the digital sector by the EU.

After the last few years devoted to “regulating the digital space and the data economy” (AI Act, the Data Act, the Cyber Resilience Act, the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Service Act, etc.), these associations hope that the EU will raise its ambitions in terms of innovation and technological leadership.

The position paper lists four priority areas of work:

  1. Europeans’ digital skills, by educating all citizens about digital tools, providing mechanisms for employees to adapt to technological developments and strengthening universities’ subjects on these topics;
  2. Independence of European companies, which are today dependent on American or Chinese suppliers;
  3. Investments in tech and digital companies; and
  4. Environmental impact of digital technology, by increasing the lifespan of the digital equipment and combating hardware obsolescence.

Energy sector

Équilibre des énergies (EdEn), a think tank specialising in industrial policies, stresses the need for a European industrial strategy that is properly focused on the climate and the economy, rather than an accumulation of objectives.

The think tank has made 35 recommendations, divided into nine key areas and two priorities:

  • The effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), by implementing a directive on the development of low-carbon energies and by the EU taking concrete actions to achieve its carbon targets; and
  • The reindustrialisation of the EU by 2030 in order to ensure an effective European decarbonisation.

According to EdEn, the European industries will need more electricity – may it be nuclear or from renewable energies – because more and more sectors and uses will be electrified in the next few years. Moreover, the electrification of the energy mix is a prerequisite for decarbonisation.