“Another major economic challenge is the persistence of high inflation. Christine Lagarde [president] and the European Central Bank [ECB] are working hard to keep inflation under control, [but] we know that returning to the ECB's medium-term objective will take some time,” said Ursula von der Leyen, at her speech on the State of the Union in 2023, at the plenary session of the European Parliament, in the French city of Strasbourg.

Speaking for the fourth time since taking office, the last in this term, the official listed “three major economic challenges for the industry next year”.

At issue are the “shortage of labour and skills, inflation” and the need to “facilitate company activity”, in a context of contained economic growth, the consequences of the war in Ukraine and a tight monetary policy which makes access to financing difficult.

Such challenges arise, according to the leader of the community executive, at a time when industry is also being asked to lead the clean transition, meaning it is urgent to “look to the future” and define how the EU can remain competitive.

For this reason, Von der Leyen asked Mario Draghi, former president of the ECB, “one of the greatest economic minds in Europe, to prepare a report on the future of European competitiveness”.