A looming European recession is fixing politicians' minds on the automotive sector maintains one expert, as governments in part look to the manufacturing sector to cope with the seismic shocks currently rocking the Continent.

Industry figurehead Christopher Macgowan, acting as main moderator at today's (24 November) CLEPA aftermarket conference in Brussels, made the observation to just-auto as politicians grapple with huge debts and mounting unemployment.

"The recession - totally unwelcome though it is - has fixed the European Union - both the Parliament and the European Commission to not just pay lip service to an important industry, but actually to understand that jobs, livelihoods and investments are at stake," Macgowan told just-auto in the Belgian capital.

"Its [auto industry] future success is really important to the recovery of the European Union. Many countries understand manufacturing is to be encouraged. Action is being called for and action is what we are beginning to see."

Macgowan also welcomed a more "common sense" approach to the signing of trade deals, with the presence of European Commission director DG Trade Garcia Bercero, who is closely involved in such delicate negotiations, at the CLEPA conference, a sign of the importance the supplier body attaches to such talks.

"I think common sense is beginning to prevail," said Macgowan. "It is a big improvement on what we used to have, from the rhetoric before."

Macgowan also praised CLEPA as an organisation "with clout," highlighting its powerful position with regards to European negotiations.

"CLEPA is one of the most dynamic representatives we have in the European industry," he said. "It works in a very difficult and sensitive area. We have watched CLEPA become a stronger and stronger force.

"Certainly the technical information topic is a subject that CLEPA has pursued vigorously and they have done it in a very responsible way. That has been their single biggest agenda."