They have a combined annual production of some 55 billion. The conference, which attracted industry stakeholders, members of the European Parliament and senior Commission officials, was called to discuss the key factors influencing the sustainable competitiveness of the industries. High on the agenda were the effects of increasing globalisation, the costs and accessibility of energy and raw materials, the challenge of meeting environmental requirements in a cost-effective way, as well as the strategies needed to maintain viability and employment in a longer-term perspective.
Whilst recognising that industrial sectors such as ceramics and glass could be particularly vulnerable to any downturn in the economic cycle, Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, who opened the conference, stressed that the sectors contain a core of excellent companies. Thanks to their innovation and know-how, he said, they have become world leaders, expanding their markets in the face of fierce competition. The Commission promised to continue to provide a supportive policy framework for manufacturing industries in order to help them meet their global challenges. The conference is one of a series of actions being taken in follow-up to the "Communication on Industrial Policy in an Enlarged Europe", which the Commission adopted at the end of 2002.