European “green deal”: concept and perspectives

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The European “green deal” was born out of necessities: i.e. to deal with energy transition, sustainable growth, as well as in protecting environment, people and the planet; thus, it was designed as an opportunity to build new facets of future prosperity in the member states and reacting to modern challenges.

For example, already last year greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Europe went down by roughly 2.5%, while the economy went up by 3.5%; it shows that the EU-27 can successfully reduce GHG emissions while growing national economies. Buses are on that route in the states, and they start to be powered by hydrogen making almost no noise and have zero emissions.
Crucially, this is a new generation of buses already produced in some EU states, e.g. by Škoda, the Czech automotive champion, and other hydrogen innovation made by the Tatra Trucks company, which presented at the end of 2022 the first hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicle.
The vehicle has been designed by a number of Czech research institutions to be used in difficult terrains and extreme conditions, including firefighting and rescue operations.
Tatra is already a Czech national pride, as the third oldest motor vehicle company in the world; now the company is exploring the frontier of clean innovation as having immense potential for national and other states’ industries.
The European “green transition’s” idea has quite a short history: first communication was evident in 2019, followed by the European Green Deal plan approved in 2020; the latter represents a set of political-economy’s “instruments” and legal initiatives by the EU institutions with the main goal of making the EU member states climate neutral by 2050. It has to be added that there is a specific sphere of EU legislation called “climate law”.
The “green transition” includes, among other things, a review of existing EU-wide legislation on “climate neutrality” in national development patterns and introduction of new legislation on sustainability, circular economy, construction and renovation, biodiversity, farming, education, science and innovation, etc. The “green” legislative package also includes proposals to revise climate- energy- and transport-related legislation, and put in place new legal instruments to align the EU-wide laws with the European climate ambitions.

On “green legislation” in: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/green-deal/

Inventors and innovators have been for centuries the beating heart of European manufacturing sector; now this great history’s examples have to be brought in creating sustainable future.

More on green deal and climate law: https://www.integrin.dk/2023/05/01/european-green-and-climate-law/

Law and economy combined
When the EU embarked on the “green transition” (dubbed “green deal”) four years ago, the main idea, actually, was to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050; e.g. in the legal sense, this vision was transformed into the EU-wide climate law and “fit-for-55” legislation, the main pillar of the green deal (aimed at reducing by 55% the GHG emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels).

More in: https://www.integrin.dk/2023/09/23/transformations-in-the-eus-political-economy-facing-modern-crises/

At the same time, the EU strives to answer the European companies’ wishes for reliability and predictability, as a strong sense of direction from corporate Europe to facilitate planning, investment and innovation.
But the green deal was not only about rules: the “deal” was backed by a massive wave of EU-wide investment: e.g. the NextGenerationEU package (with over € 800 billion) and REPowerEU investment plan (with about € 270 billion) aimed to speed up perspective transition to clean economy patterns in the member states.
Some examples of these efforts are already seen the transformative process in the energy sector: e.g. in Czechia, the government has used European resources to make buildings more energy efficient, and installed almost four times more solar capacity than before in order to double country’s solar energy consumption by 2025.
On EU energy and climate measures in: https://www.integrin.dk/2023/04/29/the-eu-and-the-worlds-agenda-on-energy-and-climate-issues/

Presently, the EU-27 – for the first time in its history – generates more electricity from wind and sun than from gas; therefore, renewable energy is not only good for countries (as it is originated locally), but it creates new kind of employment, is good for energy independence and security.
About 84% of Europeans agree that tackling climate change and protecting environmental quality should be a national priority in improving public health, while 63% of respondent agree that the states have to be prepared for climate crises’ negative effects adequate resilient actions.

Main reference: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_23_3934

Czech’s examples
Glass production is a national pride of Czechia and people in Europe and around the world cherishes these great national industrial treasures. Presently, with the assistance of “Volta project”, the EU is investing in cleaner glass production by supporting the electrification of existing flat-glass furnaces so that they can cut emissions by more than 75%. And this is vital to make the European flat-glass industry competitive, also in the clean economy of tomorrow.
Another vital direction is to “transform” those regions that need greater investment before they can embrace a cleaner future. Like the three Czech’s coal regions – Karlovy Vary, Ústí and Moravia-Silesia – there are many local communities which are concerned about their future as thousands of people are employed in lignite mines and in the coal sector.
Thus, the main priority under the EU green deal is to invest in those regions, to ease the transformation: e.g. the EU Just Transition Fund is investing €1.6 billion in Czechia, with a strong focus on creating new hydrogen valleys in the very same regions now relying on coal.
The Fund’s resources are invested along the whole clean hydrogen value chain: i.e. from production to storage, from transport to industrial applications. These investments will create thousands of future-proof good-paying jobs not only in Czechia but all over EU to deliver the European green deal in new growth strategies for all industries and all regions.

Green deal challenges
The EU member states and the European businesses are still grappling with a set of challenges that hamper growth and innovation; some of them are mentioned below.

= First, high energy prices. In summer 2022, at the height of the energy crisis gas prices were ten times higher than presently; today, energy prices in Europe are almost back to pre-war levels. That is an achievement due to both the EU’s unity, as well as recovery and resilience measures in the member states. However, the energy price is structurally still higher than in other continents as a factor of global competitiveness. The solution depends on the energy mix of each country; although the issue, generally, remains a national prerogative (i.e. in some EU states nuclear energy plays a central role in energy mix), investment in renewables is also important for national energy transition. If the share of renewables in national energy mix continues to rise at the current pace, the whole EU will soon be protected against the high prices of imported fossil fuels because renewables are so much cheaper. So, the main governance issue is to stay on the course which would make cheap and clean energy available through the EU-wide.

= Second, the issue of unfair competition: too often European companies face the competition of heavily subsidised foreign players. For example, in the member states auto industries carmakers are now investing heavily in new lines of electric and hybrid vehicles. But at the same time, global markets are flooded with cheap Chinese electric cars with their prices kept artificially low by huge state subsidies. This is the European Commission has launched an anti-subsidy investigation into electric vehicles coming from China. European companies will always be ready for true competition in cost effectiveness and quality; but it has to be fair. And the EU’s task is to protect European companies from unfair competition.

= Thirdly, in each EU state the economic sectors are facing specific challenges in formulating their own clean transition paths: some industries struggle with the slow pace of permitions and excessive reporting obligations, but most with the lack of resources. Some industries are facing difficulties in the access to raw materials or to a skilled workforce. With the new EU’s green deal’s industrial plan, the EU institutions are addressing emerging challenges across economic sectors.
The EU-wide strategy at present is to “engage with each and every” national industrial system. With this in mind, the EU has launched a new series of Clean Transition Dialogues with the national industries in order to address those specific issues in individual sectors in dealing with the European green deal, with competitiveness and through the global challenges.

Source and references from Commission press release at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/speech_23_4614

 

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