The importance of applied research

Home Technologist 01 The importance of applied research

Bernard Guetta is known as France’s most respected geopolitical analyst. On his show on the public radio station France Inter, with its audience of 1.8 million, he deftly discusses the challenges Europe faces in the era of globalization. Technologist asked him three questions about the future of industry on the continent.

Bernard Guetta has just published Intime conviction (éditions du Seuil). For the record, he is also the half-brother of DJ and producer David Guetta.

TECHNOLOGIST Why do you believe the European Union’s priority should be “reindustrialisation”?

BERNARD GUETTA We’ve become seriously deindustrialised. That’s the root of all the EU’s current problems, including unemployment, declining social services and foreign trade. The division of labour envisioned 30 years ago – white-collar jobs in developed countries, production in the developing ones – worked to the benefit of the latter. Countries like Brazil have benefited from industrial relocation and transfers of technology.

TECHNOLOGIST How can the EU reindustrialise?

BERNARD GUETTA First, we have to place our bets on industries of the future, which means making a huge effort in applied research, which we need to do together. Even if not all 28 members come together to get this started, at least a few must. This solid core of European countries will open the door to a reindustrialisation that could eventually spread to the entire continent. In spite of all the criticism, the EU has the capacity to raise significant funding toward this goal. Even Greece can borrow money today.

TECHNOLOGIST Can industries be brought back to Europe?

BERNARD GUETTA Not only is it possible, but we have evidence that it’s happening. Distance is costly and the price of transport will continue to rise. Above all, it’s difficult to keep a handle on product quality when manufacturing takes place in India. The success of German companies is based on local, high-quality production, and a dense fabric of small and medium-sized companies that have conquered world markets and have a strong capacity for innovation. France, on the other hand, has built monolithic companies that are now struggling to survive due to globalisation. They need to be inspired by the German model.

Interview by Serge Maillard

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