Keywords: Research, Cooperation, 7th Framework Program, European Commission, EU, Factory of the Future, Social Sustainability.
Despite delocalization of manufacturing activities from Europe to developing and growth economies, the manufacturing sector employs over 30 million people, is the second largest sector within the European Union's non-financial business economy in terms of its contribution to employment (22.8 percent) and the largest contributor to non-financial business economy value added, accounting for one quarter (25.0 percent) of the total.
Global megatrends drive manufacturers' responses by continued adaptation to the location and changing needs of the population, plus economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
Since manufacturing is considered a key enabler for the European economy, the EU has decided to start funding a research topic on social sustainability in manufacturing.
The EU's Strategy Until 2020
Economic growth depends on innovation. To support continued innovation, as part of its strategy for 2020, the EU has set the goal to spend 3 percent of GDP on research & development, similar to the spending levels in Japan or the US. Other targets are to have an employment rate of 75 percent of the 20 to 64 year-olds and have 20 million less people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion. In short, the EU is targeting "Growth, jobs, and better lives," with a focus on manufacturing, which offers greater potential to employ people and add value than services, which are limited in these respects.
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