Press Releases Speech by President von der Leyen at the Clean Transition Dialogue with energy intensive industries

Speech by President von der Leyen at the Clean Transition Dialogue with energy intensive industries

Distinguished guests,

Dear Maros,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the second Clean Transition Dialogue. I’m glad to see representatives from different industries, but also social partners and financial institutions. With these dialogues, we are looking at the needs of each and every industrial ecosystem on their decarbonisation path. Today we focus on energy intensive industries.

Many of your industries are a true and traditional European pride. From glass to paper, from ceramics to chemicals. You create millions of jobs, and hundreds of billions in added value. And we want Europe to keep leading in all of your sectors. For that, we have to reinforce and regain our global competitiveness.

In these four years, many of your industries have already achieved incredible results. You are replacing fossil-based fertilisers from Russia, with decarbonised fertilisers made in Europe. The first carbon-neutral cement factories are only a few years away. And out of 80 clean steel projects that have been announced worldwide, almost 50 are in Europe. But the circumstances you are facing are incredibly challenging. Including stronger international competition. Hard-to-abate sectors feel the pressure more than other industries. So you need greater support from our Union.

Before I focus on the way forward, allow me to quickly go through what we have done so far. First, to speed-up your transition, second, to lower energy prices, and third, to address competition on global markets.

First, on speed. One of the European Green Deal’s first priorities has always been to give certainty. We have set ambitious targets for renewables and clean hydrogen, that are essential for decarbonising many of your industries. We are also setting targets for carbon capture and storage. And we are speeding up permitting for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS), for renewables and for grids. We know that the lack of this critical infrastructure is one of the main bottlenecks you face. Yesterday, we also proposed an extension of the emergency regulation on permitting, to bring more renewable projects online.

In parallel, we have also mobilised massive investments to back up this work. Your industries are among the main beneficiaries of our Innovation Fund. Almost 17 billion euros from our recovery plan, NextGenerationEU, are going to the decarbonisation of European industries, with a strong focus on hard-to-abate sectors. We have authorised substantial State Aid for your sectors: 17 billion euros for hydrogen projects. 37 billion euros specifically for energy intensive industries. On top of the support that all industries have received to face high energy prices. Earlier this month, we launched an 800-million-euro auction under the Hydrogen Bank, the first part of a total value of 3 billion euros. By next Spring we will launch a new auction, reaching a total value of 3 billion euros. And I was recently in Canada, to discuss with Prime Minister Trudeau how to boost transatlantic hydrogen trade. All of this will help us scale up this strategic industry.

My second point concerns the price of energy. Since Russia launched its full-scale war on Europe’s energy, we have done our utmost to bring prices under control. We have diversified our gas supply. We have saved energy. We have massively invested in renewables. We have purchased gas together. And thank to all of this, prices are now back to pre-war levels. We have also just decided to prolong our Temporary Crisis Framework until June 2024, so that you continue to receive State Aid throughout the winter, to compensate for high energy prices. But the real long-term solution to bring prices down is to keep investing in home-grown clean energy.

Since we launched the European Green Deal, we have more than doubled the amount of solar energy produced in Europe. For the first time ever, we produce more electricity from sun and wind than from gas. And we are reforming our Electricity Market, Europe has always suffered from higher energy prices than other world regions. But with renewable and low carbon energy, we can rebalance the playing field.

This leads to my third point, on international competition. Europe wants to lead the way towards a net-zero economy. Your industries have made huge efforts to contribute to this goal. But we have to do it in a way that ensures a global level playing field. After this meeting, I will go to Dubai, to the UN Climate Conference, precisely with that ambition. We will launch a coalition of countries that will join us with their own carbon pricing systems. The IMF, the World Bank, the WTO will also join us to boost this agenda. It is a decisive step towards global net-zero industries, and fairer international competition.

And this is where today’s dialogue comes into play. We want the European Green Deal to deliver. And for this we need you. Maros will guide you through the questions that we have put on the table.

Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to hearing your contributions to this dialogue.

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