"With the Net-Zero Act going to be introduced tomorrow, by 2030 we want to be able to produce at least 40% of the clean technology needed. We facilitate permissions. Let's create simpler legislation. We allow tax breaks and flexible use of EU funds. In short, the Net-Zero Industry Act offers speed, simplification and funding," said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, speaking to the European Parliament in the plenary debate in Strasbourg.
"Our political priorities – the European Green Deal, digitalisation and geopolitical resilience – remain unchanged. They have proven to be the right priorities, but we want to make them less expensive to implement, especially for our small and medium-sized enterprises," explained the President of the EU Commission. With a war on the doorstep, volatile energy prices and massive investment in clean technologies, Europe must raise the bar," he added.
"The Critical raw materials act, which the College of Commissioners will adopt tomorrow", will allow "to guarantee the supply of critical materials that are absolutely necessary for the digital and green transition" and on which "today the EU is heavily dependent on some third countries", for example "we obtain 98% of our supply of rare earths and 93% of our magnesium from China ," von der Leyen said. The pandemic and war have taught us a lesson about addictions. If we want to be independent, we urgently need to strengthen and diversify our supply chains with closer partners," he added. "Last week I was in Canada, where European companies are doing just that, for example, on sourcing low-carbon nickel to make batteries here in Europe. Canada is not only a reliable partner: it also shares our values and ensures that materials are extracted to the highest standards for the environment and workers," he stressed.
"We Europeans have set ourselves the goal of spending 3% of our GDP on research and development by 2030. Slowly but slowly but surely, we are getting closer to this goal. But it is not enough - continued von der Leyen - and others are faster and better. While the amount we spend on R&D is slowly increasing, our share of global R&D spending has fallen from 41% to 31% over the past 20 years. Together with the Swedish Presidency of the Council, I would therefore like to propose to the Heads of State and Government that they increase Europe's share of expenditure."
On the issue of competitiveness, "we must work in the long term. We need to speed up the capital market union and work on innovation, where we need to do more and better. And the third point is the question of trade. For several years, trade has been a sacred point for the EU, a powerful engine: today, however, we are increasingly struggling to see the implementation of trade agreements", underlined the President of the EU Council, Charles Michel, at the European Parliament. "There is no equidistance between the US and China, we are a historical and faithful ally of the former. At the same time, China is a reality, an important player. For this reason, on the one hand, we must look each other in the eye with China in defending fundamental values, commit ourselves to reducing EU dependencies, dialogue with Beijing on global issues, from climate change to health", explained Michel.
The President of the EU Council also spoke about the migration issue: "Without waiting for the entry into force of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, it is clear that we must work better and more in terms of cooperation with third countries of origin and transit to fight together against traffickers and criminals who speculate on misery and poverty, but also to open legal channels of migration and not leave to traffickers and criminals those who have the ability to come to Europe".
Michel then explained: "We must take decisions respecting the rule of law to ensure that there are regular human channels and therefore next week we will also have an update on the discussions on this topic since the last European Council" ahead of the next one scheduled for 23-24 March.
On the war in Ukraine, the Prime Minister recalled that "Russian forces have launched between 20,50 and <>,<> grenades a day in recent months. Ukraine needs ammunition and that is why we have been working on Estonia's proposal to support ammunition supplies to Ukraine. We would like to see an escalation towards peace but Russia has not blocked the war escalation. We need a decision by the aggressor but we do not see steps from the Kremlin and we continue to fight a battle for peace. We support President Zelensky's peace proposal," Michel said.