The resolution, prepared by German MEP Ms Martina Werner, puts forward concrete proposals to boost competitiveness that could be undertaken by the European Union (EU). MEPs want the European Commission to coordinate an ambitious industrial policy for the railway supply industry covering research and innovation, skills and training, the EU internal market, public procurement of equipment and services, trade and access to foreign markets.

A key objective is to create a level playing field for railway equipment globally by ending what the EP regards as unfair competition. "Parliament calls on the EU Commission to craft a coherent EU trade strategy which ensures compliance with the principle of reciprocity, particularly in relation to Japan, China and the USA," says the EP in a statement.

The parliament is concerned about low-cost imports of railway equipment from non-EU countries often with strong political and financial support from their country of origin which it says is "skewing" competitive conditions for EU suppliers. "These practices may constitute unfair competition which threatens jobs," the EP says.

"As this well-timed resolution aptly points out, European rail supply manufacturers are under significant competitive pressure from emerging Asian industrial giants on global and now even on European markets," says Mr Philippe Citroën, director general of the European Rail Supply Industry Association (Unife). "Meanwhile, these new competitors' home markets continue to become less and less accessible to European companies, putting this job-creating, innovative and export-oriented European industry at a significant competitive disadvantage. We hope that Industry Commissioner Bieńkowska will take note of the strong messages voiced by the MEPs in support of our industry and we expect the Commission to put in place a structured industrial dialogue in the coming weeks."

Nevertheless, the European rail supply industry, which employs 400,000 people in the EU, currently leads the global market for railway equipment with a 46% market share.