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International News From the Field: Europe

February 22, 2021


Although Europe is often looked at as a whole, individual country status can vary widely. In 2020, the average loss of GDP was about 5% for the 27 countries of the European Union, but for some economies, it was more painful. However, the restored capabilities and innovation in manufacturing as well as significant progress with COVID vaccinations have driven the economic mood to the positive side. Currently, the European manufacturing PMI is over 54. Italian incentives, a proposed 25-mile tunnel, and aerospace developments further point to increased optimism. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.


  • In 2020, the hardest-hit GDPs were Turkey (-15.6), Spain (-9.1), the U.K. (-7.8), and Italy (-6.6). Because all these countries have a rather high ratio of governmental debt to GDP, their recoveries will be slower. Those least affected by the 2020 recession were Switzerland (-1.6), Netherlands (-2.5), Poland (-2.8), Russia (-3.1), and Germany (-3.9). As these are also economies with less debt, it is predicted that they should largely recover within two years.

  • Most of the major manufacturing technology exhibitions throughout Europe that are normally held in the first half of the year have been pushed to later in the year or to 2022. Scheduling could be a challenge as show grounds get booked for late summer and fall. The only major show still scheduled for the first half of 2021 is Metalloobrabotka, which will take place in Russia in May.

  • EMO, Europe’s most important manufacturing technology show, will be held in Milan, Italy, on Oct. 4-9, 2021. The show organizers, UCIMU, are strongly supported by the Italian government and are taking every step to ensure it will proceed as planned.

  • Italy is bullish on incentivizing its manufacturing recovery. The government’s 2021 budget extends significant tax credits for investments in new machine tools, robots, automation systems, and digital technologies. The credits cover up to 50% over two years. This makes EMO 2021 a significant opportunity to promote manufacturing technology to Italian end users.

  • More good news in aerospace from the small aircraft sector: European sales and leases of business jets increased in 2020 and continue to rise.

  • From its new $44 million facility in Bristol, the U.K.’s GKN Aerospace will lead a program to further develop its hydrogen propulsion systems for sub-regional aircraft. It will be focusing on performance, with the goal of enabling applications for larger aircraft and longer journeys.

  • Airbus has expanded its innovative additive layer manufacturing capabilities to produce components for satellites and space communication in large volumes, replacing a significant amount of assembly work.

  • A new infrastructure project has been announced in the U.K.: a 25-mile road-and-rail-link tunnel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. As the prime minister supports it, it has been dubbed “Boris’s Burrow.”

  • The circular economy concept has been gaining support in Europe, including machine tool usage. The concept of keeping machinery longer may lead to smaller demand for new machines but higher expenditures for new applications, especially through automation.

For more information, please contact Hubert Sawicki at hsawicki@AMTonline.org.


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