BRUSSELS, Feb 1 (Reuters) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set out its Green Deal Industrial Plan on Wednesday, designed to ensure the European Union does not lose ground in the green tech race and can counter massive subsidies by the United States and China.
This is what it contains.
Clean tech firms could be in line for simpler rules and fast-tracked permits to build production facilities in Europe.
The EU executive said it would produce a “Net-Zero Industry Act” offering faster permits to manufacturers of technologies key to its climate goals. That could include carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, renewable hydrogen production facilities and batteries.
Brussels had already slashed the time lines and simplified the rules for renewable energy projects last year.
The EU will also set goals to expand specific technologies by 2030, lay out criteria to identify strategic clean tech projects, and potentially set more EU-wide standards for what counts as a sustainable or “net-zero” emissions product.
The Commission proposes loosening state aid rules until the end of 2025 to allow the bloc’s 27 governments to help with investments in renewable energy or decarbonising industry.
Recognising that not all EU countries will be able to offer subsidies to the same extent as France or Germany, and to preserve the internal market’s level playing field, the plan envisages allowing countries to draw on existing EU funds.
The principal pool would be the 225 billion euros ($245 billion) of loans and 20 billion euros of grants remaining from the EU’s 800 billion euro post-pandemic recovery fund.
Longer term, the Commission will propose creating a European Sovereignty Fund to invest in emerging technologies.
Some 4.5 million people in the EU had jobs in green industries in 2019, up from 3.2 million in 2000, while the battery sector alone estimates it will need 800,000 extra workers by 2025.
The EU has created 14 industry partnerships, including for automotive and agri-food sectors, designed to boost education and training and to re-skill workforces. EU funds are also available for apprenticeships and vocational training.
The Commission is working with EU members to monitor and set targets for supply and demand of skills and jobs and to increase recognition of qualifications across the EU and from third countries.
The EU executive argues that trade openness is an essential part of maintaining the EU’s position as a leader in net-zero technologies, both in terms of improving access to raw materials and by securing access to new export markets.
The Commission, which oversees EU trade policy, wants to increase the EU’s network of trade agreements, such as those concluded with Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and Mercosur and one it aims to agree with Australia.
It will also seek to establish alliances with like-minded partners on raw materials and clean tech, along with its Trade and Technology Council with the United States.
At the same time, it aims to make use of a new EU law on foreign subsidies, saying it will work with partners to identify and address what it says are unfair trading practices of non-market economies, such as China.
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