Intergraf responds to 2021 State of the European Union address

15 September 2021

This morning, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, delivered her annual State of the European Union address to the European Parliament’s Strasbourg Plenary. This speech is an important feature of the European Union as it gives us an opportunity to hear the Commission’s priorities for the coming year.

Intergraf welcomes the focus on Europe’s economic recovery. We were pleased to hear that 19 Member States are on track to reach pre-pandemic levels this year, with the rest in pursuit. We also welcome von der Leyen’s reference to the pandemic’s uneven impact on different sectors. Even within the European graphical sector, there have been vast differences between sub-sectors and companies with regard to the effects of the pandemic. Different industries need different kinds of support, and we urge the European Commission to continue to take into account the individual situations of different sectors, like print, in the coming years. We also fully support the Commission’s emphasis on the importance of the single market, which should be strengthened alongside Europe’s industrial stakeholders (see our industrial strategy to find out more about how).

Naturally, von der Leyen focused predominantly on the ongoing pandemic, praising European solidarity and Europe’s efforts to support its citizens – both from a health perspective and an economic one.

The importance of shaping our digital transition (Europe’s next “make-or-break” issue) based on values was also given welcome attention. One of Europe’s key values is inclusion. We cannot achieve inclusion in our digital world without print to fill the digital gap – which remains significant. The freedom to choose how we receive important information (in print or online) must be safeguarded. We hope to see stronger measures to protect consumers’ right to choose over the coming year and remind the Commission, once again, about the key role print plays in Europe’s digital transition.

The European Green Deal was also mentioned early on in the address. Like the Commission, Intergraf gives a lot of importance to this topic and its ambitious goals. Our Environment Working Group meets regularly to discuss all of the latest developments. For example, we support our industry to lower their carbon footprint and prove to customers the low impact of print. Also, one of our key positions regards the EU Timber Regulation, the scope of which should be extended to printed products. This would support deforestation-free value chains and boost the competitiveness of the European forest-based industries, including print. The Commission is currently working on reviewing the Timber Regulation, so we hope to see progress on this in the coming months.

Much time was also dedicated to young Europeans, with a call to make our union more like our next generation, namely “grounded in values and bold in action”. In particular, we support the call to support those who fall into the gaps and look forward to seeing the new ALMA programme in action, as well as the activities planned for the 2022 Year of European Youth. However, Europe’s future is shaped not only by young people – people of all generations have a stake in the future of Europe. We hope to see the Commission also focus on supporting the skills and careers of people from every generation.

Finally, on the International Day of Democracy, we welcome von der Leyen’s key reference to the importance of media freedom. We fully agree that “information is a public good” and that “media companies cannot be treated as just another business” due to the essential need for them to remain independent. We look forward to the publication of a Media Freedom Act and remind the Commission of the importance of printed newspapers – both for maintaining the independent revenues of media companies, as well as for ensuring that all citizens can access news and information in whatever format they prefer.

Intergraf looks forward to working with the European Commission on all of the issues above, and many more, during the next year.

You can watch or read the President von der Leyen’s full State of the European Union address here.