UNIFE welcomes 13 new members at 2021 General Assembly
2021, much like 2020, was defined by the COVID-19 effects. Just as rail was an important tool in responding to the pandemic by transporting essential personnel, life-saving equipment and critical patients, Europe’s safest, most reliable and sustainable form of mass transport will be crucial to confronting two other ongoing crises: Economic recovery and climate change. During the European Year of Rail, our sector has continued to contribute to rail’s growth and positioning as the backbone of tomorrow’s sustainable transport paradigm. To further its goals, UNIFE has elected to expand its membership during its annual General Assembly – held virtually due to standing social distancing restrictions.
The UNIFE General Assembly, which is composed of its members takes any measures or actions required for the achievement of the mission and objectives of the association and its general policy, voted on Wednesday to ratify the membership of the following 13 companies:
The General Assembly meeting was also an opportunity for the association to approve its 2021-2022 Advocacy Strategy. UNIFE will thereby continue to raise awareness of the strategic importance of our manufacturing sector from both an industrial and a sustainable transport point of view; as well as to further highlight the major industrial challenges that the European rail supply industry is facing in a world of fierce competition defined by growing protectionism, restricting accessibility and increasing unfair subsidies. UNIFE will continue to advocate for strong EU measures targeting the three inseparable pillars of our lobbying strategy:
- Ensuring the EU helps European suppliers continue to produce the best rail products on the world market (with the importance, for example, of the new Europe Rail’s Joint Undertaking to boost Research & Innovation);
- Highlighting the need for the EU to improve the business environment, both in the EU and internationally, so that European suppliers – including SMEs – can produce and sell their products in the best market conditions (ex. the future International Procurement Instrument);
- Still, the best products and a satisfactory business environment are inconsequential if there is no demand for rail products. Therefore, stimulating demand in the EU and globally will remain the critical third pillar of our policy strategy, especially in the post-COVID-19 period. Hence our advocacy campaign to secure massive rail investments in the framework of the National Recovery Plans.
Apprehending the scope of these challenges, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, UNIFE Chairman and Alstom CEO & Chairman, welcomed the association’s newest members by stating: "After a very challenging year 2020 for all of us individually and collectively, the rail industry is now ready to contribute to Europe’s economic recovery, focused on the green and digital transitions. With 13 new members this year, UNIFE will be even better placed to contribute actively to the European policy debates on the future of our mobility systems and on our industrial competitiveness.”
Additionally, the UNIFE General Assembly saw the ratification of two changes in the association’s governing body. First, members agreed to admit Voestalpine, to be represented by Franz Kainersdorfer, in the Presiding Board. UNIFE welcomes their inclusion and the invaluable perspective on rail infrastructure that they will bring to the table. The second change, is the approval of Siemens Mobility CEO Michael Peter to the board, replacing his predecessor Sabrina Soussan.
Looking forward to the year ahead, UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën expressed optimism concerning the track ahead, and outlined the association’s 2022 priorities and strategy: “UNIFE and its members understand that rail is essential to a prosperous and sustainable European future. Together, we are working to ensure the EU is today enabling this mode of transport to serve as the backbone of tomorrow’s green mobility paradigm.”
Lastly, the UNIFE General Assembly concluded with the approval of Paris as the city host for the 2022 edition, to be held on 16 June.
2022 will be a consequential year for the EU and its rail supply industry. By working and fighting together, UNIFE and its members will successfully promote rail and its key contributions to a strong and resilient economy. Coordinated and sustained advocacy is central to enabling the rail supply’s ability to advance job creation, territorial and societal cohesion, as well as smart, digital and sustainable mobility system that reconciles performance while reducing CO2 emissions in line with the EU Green Deal and the European Commission’s Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy.