‘Make Europe the home of clean tech’: European Commission President calls for more subsidies to fund EU’s future

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a “Net Zero Industry Act” to boost clean tech. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, she also vowed to support Ukraine “as long as it takes.” Deutsche Welle provides a news item on Mme von der Leyen’s announcement.


European Commission outlines plan for clean tech future

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, presented a “Green Deal Industrial Plan” at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday., January 17th.

The EU must invest to stay competitive “before the fossil fuel economy becomes obsolete,” von der Leyen said.

The EU’s Green Deal plan aims to make Europe the home of clean technology and industrial innovation on the road to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

“To help make this happen, we will put forward a new Net-Zero Industry Act,” EU chief said. “The aim will be to focus investment on strategic projects along the entire supply chain.”

The EU aims to be competitive

The EU is concerned that European companies will move to China or to the US, which has a $369 billion (€341 billion) scheme to subsidise green production.

“We see aggressive attempts to attract our industrial capacities away to China and elsewhere,” von der Leyen said.

The EU plans to provide money for industry “to keep European industry attractive.”

Von der Leyen added, “There is a need to be competitive with the offers and incentives that are currently available outside the EU.”

She also set out a framework to relax strict EU state aid rules, at least temporarily, to allow for “easier calculations. Simpler procedures. Accelerated approvals.”

The Commission President said that because not all countries in the 27-nation bloc have the same capacity to support national industries, using state aid alone could result in unfair competition and “fragmentation” that would damage the EU’s single market.

“To avoid a fragmenting effect on the single market and to support the clean tech transition across the whole Union we must also step up EU funding,” von der Leyen said.

“For the medium term, we will prepare a European Sovereignty Fund as part of the mid-term review of our budget later this year,” she noted.

Seeking a level playing field with China 

In her speech, von der Leyen also said the EU needs to work and trade with China on clean tech and push for a level playing field rather than seek to decouple from the world’s second-largest economy.

She mentioned that China had made boosting clean tech innovation and  manufacturing a key priority in its five-year plan, dominating in sectors such as electric vehicles and solar panels.

“But competition on net-zero must be based on a level-playing field,” she said, adding that China heavily subsidises its industry and restricts access to its market for EU companies.

“We will still need to work and trade with China – especially when it comes to this transition. So we need to focus on de-risking  rather  than  decoupling,” she said.

EU vows ‘no let-up in steadfast support’ to Ukraine

Ursula von der Leyen also promised that there would be “no let-up” in EU support for Ukraine, as she spoke in Davos.

“There will be no let-up in our steadfast support to Ukraine, from helping to restore power, heating and water, to preparing for the long-term effort of reconstruction,” she said.

Von der Leyen reminded that many had doubts about European support to Ukraine, but now Ukraine has a candidate status, EU countries are supplying arms to Ukraine, and millions of Ukrainian refugees live in the EU.

The first €3 billion ($3.2 billion) disbursement of an €18 billion support package for Ukraine on Tuesday was “a strong message” to support Ukraine’s financial stability, she said.

“We are in it for as long as it takes and stand with our Ukrainian friends,” von der Leyen said.

“There will be no impunity to Russian crimes.”

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