MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Monday urged the European Union to “reindustrialize” to end its reliance on energy, microchips and food from outside the bloc and to learn the lessons of shortages provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine.
Shortages triggered by dependence on countries outside the 27-nation EU highlighted “a serious threat to the competitiveness of our companies or to the security and welfare of our fellow citizens,” Sánchez said.
He pointed to microchips and personal protective equipment from Asia during the pandemic and Russian natural gas and grains during the war in Ukraine. Sánchez was giving a speech in Madrid to outline policy priorities before Spain assumes the rotating presidency of the EU council in the second half of 2023.
The solution, he added, was to “reindustrialize Europe" and “recover jobs and strategic capabilities that we should never have lost.” The focus would not be on traditional heavy manufacturing but “digitalization or ecological transition,” said Sánchez, noting that just 1% of solar panels were made in the EU or 20% of internet storage used by the bloc.
Sánchez also announced that a joint research project with 25 EU countries would analyze the “strategic vulnerabilities” of the bloc's energy, food, health and technology supply chains.
The EU has proposed simplifying subsidies for green industries and awarding funding for Europe-wide projects as the bloc pursues the goal of being climate neutral by 2050.
Spain's inflation rate is one of the lowest in Europe, partly due to its low reliance on Russian natural gas, and the Spanish economy grew more than expected in the final quarter of last year.