European supplier body, CLEPA, is calling on politicians to confirm a Brussels plan to allocoate EUR80bn (US$105bn) for its Horizon 2020 innovation programme.

CLEPA notes automotive companies invest more than EUR30bn in research and development every year allowing shorter development and product cycles and is asking funding for RDI activities should be maintained to keep competitive advantage.

“We urge ministers to confirm the Commision’s proposed EUR80bn budget for the
Horizon 2020 programme for 2014-2020,” said CLEPA CEO, Jean-Marc Gales.

“Innovation is not a choice but the key to the survival of the industry, by creating jobs and by ensuring sustainability.”

A CLEPA statetment also highlighted its view of the significance of the road transport sector for the prosperity of the European Union and that it should be “well and proportionally reflected in the Horizon 2020 framework programme.”

The automotive industry is a major contributor to the EU economy, generating a
turnover of EUR551bn, which represents around 6.9% of Europe’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“Given the figures, the EU should allocate at least EUR5.5bn to road transport from the expected total budget” said Gales, adding all companies in the supply chain ought to be eligible for EU support.

The CLEPA statement went on to note: “Key aspect of funding an activity should be the European dimension and not the type and size of company. SMEs need to participate in EU projects. This will help them integrate in global market schemes.

“To raise the level of industry involvement, rules for participation must be simplified and time to grant shorter. A skilled workforce is an absolute necessity to innovate, develop and manufacture.”

Gales added: “The solution for current problems is not to give money for the closure of factories but innovation.

“There is a tremendous need to improve the available skills base increasing the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates.

“The EU and Member States must anticipate the needs of the industry in respect of
skills and innovation to ensure European sustainable growth.”

The supplier association added it had identified five key areas for automotive research: decarbonisation of road transport, including advanced ICE power-trains; advanced lightweight materials; safety; intelligent transport systems and advanced manufacturing-engineering technologies.