On 15 February 2023, the European Parliament will hold a plenary debate in Strasbourg on the European Commission’s recent proposal for a “Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age” in response to the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). By complementing the European Green Deal (EGD) and the REPowerEU Plan in an effort to boost the European Union’s competitiveness within the net-zero industry, this proposal aims to scale up the production of clean technologies and products and contribute to the transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
This plan consists of four key pillars: a slimmer regulatory framework; swifter access to finances for the production of clean technologies; enhancing skills for the green transition; and global cooperation and open and fair trade. Several of the proposal’s flagship initiatives are already expected to be presented in March 2023, such as the European Critical Raw Materials Act and the revision of the EU’s internal electricity market design reform. Moreover, substantial public, private and EU funding opportunities are envisaged to achieve a net-zero economy that is people-centred and promotes the development of green and digital skills. With this respect, one of the key actions is the creation of Net-Zero Industry Academies aimed at offering re-skilling and up-skilling programmes for the green transition. Finally, the plan reiterates the need for free and fair trade as a key driver for the clean transition on a global scale.
The last Special European Council, held on 9 and 10 February 2023, welcomed the Commission’s proposal, while the European Parliament’s plenary will vote on a resolution on EU strategy to boost industrial competitiveness, trade and quality jobs in the plenary session on 16 February. The Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union has prioritised for the first semester of the year 2023 the development of a working regulatory framework that attracts investments necessary to fight climate change and decarbonise our society.
European Commission: Communication on the Green Deal Industrial Plan
European Enviornmental Bureau (EEB): EU green industrial plans must be better, not just bigger
European Parliament: Fit For 55’s deal on stricter rules for GHG emissions
Real Deal: Reshaping citizens’ deliberation for the European Green Deal
16 February 2023: European Parliament’s plenary vote on a resolution on an EU strategy to boost industrial competitiveness, trade and quality of jobs
16 March 2023: Environment Council
The European Movement International position
In order to achieve decarbonisation by mid-century, there is an evident need for the availability of green technologies and products. As elaborated in our policy position on the European Green Deal, to support the transformation to renewable energies and energy-efficient solutions, Member States need to modernise energy-intensive industries, including steel and chemicals, and decarbonise the transport and heating sector. As the Green Deal Industrial Plan barely mentions pollution, it needs to link its ambition with the zero-pollution vision for 2050 enshrined in the Zero Pollution Action Plan which must pursue more ambitious environmental and health standards, keeping our citizens safe by protecting our air, soil, and water. In order to improve air quality, one of the largest environmental health risks in Europe, faster access to finance through fair taxation is needed. The EU Budget is increasingly financed through a set of new own resources, carbon taxes, a tax on financial transactions and a digital tax as well as other fair and environmentally ambitious levies which can speed up EU’s climate efforts.
The enhancement of skills is crucial for the green and digital transition. As we argue in our policy position on Digital Sovereignty and Citizens’ Rights, any policy on sustainability should be based on a strong emphasis on and investment in digital education and literacy while ensuring that no one is left behind and maintaining accessibility to all. Additionally, in any binding EU-wide climate target, the EU institutions should further promote inclusive decision-making and dialogue with organised civil society, Social Partners and local and regional governments. This policy should ensure that people develop a broad set of skills, especially green and digital skills, from an early stage in life. An increased cooperation between Member States should be encouraged by the Commission, looking especially at the demand for new skills in the industrial sectors.
Furthermore, as we argue in our policy position on EU-US Relations, a strong focus on fair trade is also crucial in terms of trade relations with third countries and engagement with multilateral organisations, especially the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU should continue its support in neighbouring countries and countries in the Global South by playing a bigger role in financing climate-friendly investments all over the world.