European Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas doesn't like hard-style free market orthodoxy. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND


European industry is disappearing. So be it? Not so fast. Brussels Commissioner dismisses view of former top economist


Brussels Commissioner Margaritis Schinas has distanced himself from Pierre Régibeau, the European Commission’s former chief economist.

Régibeau told Belgium’s De Tijd that the disappearance of European industry did not worry him. If it happens then “so be it”, he told the newspaper.

That did not go down well with Commission Vice-President Schinas. Taking on Twitter/X, he said Régibeau’s views “may make for good August headlines, but under no circumstances represent the policy of the European Commission”.

“It took a pandemic and now a war to realise that Europe needs a solid industrial capacity and strategic autonomy,” he added.

Several economists have warned that the industrial sector in Europe is vanishing. Examples cited include a large project planned in Belgium by chemicals giant Ineos that is on the verge of being torpedoed due to environmental laws. Germany is also suffering because of a lacklustre economy.

Régibeau said fears of de-industrialisation and “collective impoverishment” were “pure lobbying” and “alarmism”, and the result of industry operators who only consider their “own benefit”.

Questioned about the possible impact on unemployment such de-growth may have in the European Union, he said: “Economies are flexible, they evolve. Shocks are absorbed.”

As long as the bloc maintains “good institutions and good education” there was little to worry about, he added.