Pan-European union body, Industriall, says the automotive sector must adapt or there 'won't be one,' maintaining the industry in Europe will not return to the heady days of pre-2007.

Industriall, formerly the European Metalworkers Federation, but which subsequently merged with chemical, mining and engineering body, EMCEF and textile workers union, ETUF-TCL, made the remarks to just-auto against a backdrop of increasing European concern surrounding overcapacity in the industry.

"The automotive industry of tomorrow will not be the one before 2007," Industriall policy adviser, Wolf Jacklein, told just-auto at the pan-European body's headquarters in Brussels.

"Either the industry adapts or there won't be an automotive industry...in Europe apart from a few niche products. Just shutting down factories will not solve anything - it does not prepare them for anything in the future.

"Either they find the ability to invest or the industry is gone."

Part of the issue, maintains Jacklein, is what he refers to as "de-motorisation," particularly among the younger generation, which no longer aspires to own a car.

"The industry does not react to that and it is rather conservative to squeeze out the last bit of profit out of production capacity before starting investing in new business models," said Jacklein.

Since its recent merger with other unions, Industriall has seen a previously declining membership in France and Germany start to stabilise and in some instances, increase.

"There are a lot of young people entering trade unions," said Jacklein. "That is a very positive signal in Europe, that people feel the value to be a trade union member."

However, the Industriall policy adviser cited the complexity of operating across 27 Member States rather on a single European basis. "The main criticism trade unions see of European politics is the political world is acting too much on a national level rather than on a European level," he said.

"[However] the Works Councils are strengthened through the new directive two years ago. I think this evolution will continue and we will see stronger and stronger Works Councils in the future.

"As soon as we have a dialogue and co-operation between employees and employer, we have better working conditions and in many situations, better wages.

Referring to recent controversial remarks made by Titan CEO, Maurice Taylor and his views on the efficiency of the French workforce, Jacklein dismissed the comments as "sterile polemics."