Industrial Sectors


After a long period of restructuring the aerospace sector in Europe has now been consolidated to a large degree. Facing the challenges of global competition the EMF particularly focuses on the issues of competition and employment, trade policy, restructuring and qualitative aspects of labour conditions.


The automobile industry and its suppliers are major providers of jobs in the European Union. The car sector is also an important contributor to EU’s prosperity, innovation capacity and employees’ skills upgrading.

However, the sector is undergoing considerable transformation and harmful restructuring exercises translating into tremendous pressures on workers and working conditions everywhere. Typically, whenever a production site closes, its suppliers are left with no other choice than to close in its wake, leaving thousands of employees jobless and with reduced prospects of improving their standards of living.


The defence industries in Europe are mainly organised at the national level and based on national procurement decisions. A common European defence industrial and technological base (EDTIB) to support a European defence and security policy has not yet materialized.


The explosive boom in the ICT and business telephony service sector is over. Company crashes and redundancies have not yet come to an end. For the metalworkers’ unions, the interface between e-economy and the high-tech metal industry has become one of the most important strategic challenges.

Given the present situation, sectoral policy for the ICT sector needs a specific mixture of a sectoral and horizontal approach. Employment and lifelong learning, information and consultation, regulation on labour conditions and mobility are key issues. Managing change in restructuring of the ICT sector is a key activity of the EMF and its affiliates.


It was only at the Congress in Prague in 2003 that it was decided to create a new ad-hoc committee in the EMF for the lift sector. The motivation for this decision was based on some specific elements.

The European lift sector is a special one since it is relatively small as sectors go, largely dominated by four major companies (Kone, Otis, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp) whilst including hundreds of small and medium-sized companies. Developments in the four big companies have a real influence on the work and production of the small and medium-sized companies and vice-versa.

Mechanical Engineering

Because it penetrates all of the European productive activities, the European mechanical engineering industries are sectors of strategic importance for European manufacturing and services.

The mechanical engineering industries are divided into very different sub-sectors which include a number of major companies as in lift, agriculture or printing machinery industries, but, in general, are composed by a wide range of small and medium-sized Enterprises.

Non-Ferrous Metals

The total direct employment in Europe in the non-ferrous industry was approximately 320.000 in 2006 corresponding to 1% of the total manufacturing employment.

Being a highly energy and raw materials intensive industry the non-ferrous area is currently facing a series of challenges. Increasing costs on energy and raw materials risks reducing the competitiveness of the sector, leading to a loss of jobs. Highly volatile world market prices, makes long term planning in the sector difficult.


The European shipbuilding industry is a high-tech sector and a vital part of Europe’s maritime industry which comprises of all branches involved in the waterborne transport of good and people as well as maritime manufacturing and services. The EMF develops its own strategies for the shipbuilding sector within the context of an overall European maritime policy in order to ensure a competitive industry with high levels of high quality employment.


Sectoral policy steel covers the framework for a competitive European steel industry with a high degree of employment. On the basis of 50 years of cooperation with employers within the framework of the ECSC Treaty, the EMF covers issues such as employment development, competition, competitiveness, working conditions, salaries and working time. Strong cooperation with European and international working structures is necessary to cover steel workers’ interests, i.e. on trade issues.

White Goods

The European White Goods sector has experienced massive restructuring in the past years and increased imports from abroad. Currently some 200.000 employees work in the sector. Job losses in Western Europe have not been compensated by investments in Eastern Europe as production is moving further outside the EU. The EMF’s strategy for a long-term perspective of the sector in Europe is based on high-quality production and a qualified workforce. Enhancing innovativeness and resource efficiency of household appliances is a key to both employment and sustainability. Currently, the competitiveness of European production is undermined by cheap but low-quality imports – at the expense of the environment. The EMF actively supports political measures that ensure dynamic minimum standards on resource efficiency.

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