EU green tech plan not protectionist: von der Leyen – EQ Mag
STRASBOURG, France : European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen denied Monday that the EU’s response to huge US green subsidies was “protectionist”, as Brussels prepares to unveil measures to boost clean tech.
The EU’s executive arm headed by von der Leyen is set to lay out its Net Zero Industry Act on Thursday in a bid to help Europe challenge the financial might of the United States and China in the field.
Brussels was pushed into unveiling its own plan after EU nations slammed US President Joe Biden’s “buy American” subsidy programme as discriminatory against its industries.
But critics now warn that leaked drafts of the commission’s proposals show the EU could follow suit and look to deter clean tech imports in a bid to help its own firms.
But von der Leyen rejected the allegations.
“This is our decision to invest in the net zero industry and to facilitate the development of new clean technologies, so to cut red tape and to reduce the bureaucratic burden, to have timelines in the permitting processes so that we speed up,” von der Leyen told AFP in an interview organised by the European Newsroom project.
“But there is not a single point that is protectionist. On the contrary, it’s a very open act.”
The EU chief insisted the commission had taken a “very very conscious decision to have this open attitude to work together with like-minded partners”.
Von der Leyen held talks with Biden on a visit to Washington last week in a bid to avoid competition in the race to transition away from fossil fuels.
Ahead of that meeting, the EU said it was relaxing state aid rules as it pushes to bolster its renewable energy industry and counter the threat to European industry from US and Chinese subsidies.
Von der Leyen and Biden also announced after their Oval Office talks that negotiations will begin on giving EU producers of critical minerals access to the US market under the Inflation Reduction Act.
The EU’s new net zero industry act will go hand in hand with a text on “critical raw materials” also set to be presented Thursday that aims to secure EU supplies of rare earths critical for green tech.
The bloc is looking to reduce its dependence on China, after learning the mistakes of being overly reliant on Russia for fossil fuels after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.