Orgalime: what’s our vision for the future of European engineering?

Orgalime is the pan-European trade association that represents the interests of many UK-based manufacturers. This June, its twice-yearly General Assembly will be held in the UK.

BEAMA’s deputy CEO, Kelly Butler and Adrian Harris, Orgalime’s director general explain how this important event will be the perfect opportunity to meet and network with colleagues, policy makers and influencers.

Orgalime Automation Welding Manufacturing Stock Image
There are some very real challenges ahead, not only in terms of a trade deal, but also the UK’s position as a policy influencer.

In the year that the Brexit process truly starts and we forge a new relationship with the EU, it is appropriate that the UK plays host to the annual General Assembly of Europe’s largest and most influential engineering trade association, Orgalime.

The three UK trade association members of Orgalime – BEAMA, Gambica, and EAMA – have carefully prepared an event that goes to the heart of the legislative and trading challenge UK-based manufacturers face.

It will also provide an opportunity to promote the importance of UK industry maintaining a mutually beneficial trading relationship with EU countries.

There are some very real challenges ahead, not only in terms of a trade deal, but also the UK’s position as a policy influencer within any trading arrangement and the future role of standardisation.

High-profile speakers from across both the EU and the UK will be speaking at the event, which is being hosted at the Beaumont Hotel, Windsor on 8-9 June 2017.

They will set the scene with their views on the developing UK/EU relationship. This is a relationship which has to be built against the background of important issues that are vital for all countries in the EU bloc; for example, low-carbon and digital technology as an enabler for competitive advantage and a clean energy future, along with the need to tackle climate change.

The General Assembly open session (8 June) will be attended by UK and EU senior executives from across the electrical and mechanical engineering sectors.

Formal proceedings will continue with networking and entertainment over dinner in the evening. The packed agenda and the unprecedented level of political and industrial uncertainty mean we can expect lively debates to report in a round-up of the event in an autumn issue.

Kelly Butler deputy CEO, BEAMA

Orgalime overview

Orgalime is the European federation representing the interests of the mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, and metal articles industries at EU level.

Membership spans 31 national associations from across Europe and nine associations representing specific industry sectors and non-EU countries. Based in Brussels, the Orgalime secretariat communicates members’ priorities to EU decision-makers and monitors developments across the broad spectrum of policy areas affecting the engineering industry – from standardisation, energy and environment, to R&D and trade.

Orgalime’s General Assembly is the supreme governing body of the association. Presidents, directors and other representatives of member organisations come together twice yearly – at one event in Brussels and one hosted by a member elsewhere in Europe – to discuss and approve the agenda for Orgalime’s policy work over the coming months.

The programme includes specific policy discussion meetings addressing topical issues that impact engineering companies, and a public session featuring keynote speeches and panel debates.

Here, leading industry and political figures tackle current issues at the European level, such as EU strategies for the digitisation of industry, the changing energy scene or the impact of the Brexit vote on the engineering sector.

Holding our General Assembly in the UK, just after Brexit has been launched will provide valuable insight for our members about the issues that companies in the UK are already facing and which will no doubt also affect our wider membership.

Adrian Harris director general, Orgalime

BEAMA comment

We find ourselves in very interesting times, especially in our relationship with the EU. As the current chairman of Orgalime, I offered to host the biannual meeting in the UK to highlight the on-going role of UK industry as part of Europe.

The public part of the event offers an excellent opportunity for UK-based industrialists and businesses to meet European counterparts, high-level political figures and leading facilitators in the UK.

I am particularly looking forward to debates between EU commentators and members of the UK associations and Orgalime. The inputs from the two leaders of the Catapults will allow all participants to get a real understanding of how they can play a part in shaping the UK’s position in parallel with our European partners. This is a great opportunity to re-establish the UK manufacturing story.

Dr Howard Porter CEO, BEAMA

GAMBICA comment

Orgalime does sterling work in keeping the interests of European industry front and centre in discussions with the European Commission. The UK, through its three-member trade associations, has played a full part in this process – often being asked to front-up European industry positions because of our native use of English, the working language of the EU.

The UK’s membership of Orgalime will not be affected by Brexit, but it is important that we get a message out to our colleagues from industry in other EU countries that we are still prepared to play our part, post Brexit. There is no better way of doing this than hosting an excellent General Assembly with UK companies fully engaged in the event. This is very much in the UK’s longer-term best interests.

Dr Graeme Philp CEO, Gambica

EAMA comment

Our surveys show most companies have maintained a steady business course since the Brexit vote, while putting contingency plans in place to manage risk. They’ve had to change course before and will adapt again according to circumstances.

What’s not clear is the future. It will be subject to all manner of variables to be agreed in the exit negotiations. Frictionless trade, rules of origin, cross-border administration, non-tariff barriers and other technical matters aren’t topics ‘down the pub on a Saturday’ at the moment. Maybe they never will be nationally, but in a year’s time, who knows in certain parts of the country?

After all, if firms in our membership are anything to go by, companies most confident about growing business post-Brexit in the UK and the EU are those that import and export regularly, particularly medium-size firms exporting more than 50% of their turnover. This meeting will usefully air some of those topics.

Rupert Hodges secretary, EAMA