Commission publishes its Green Deal Industrial Plan
On 1 February, as part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission revealed its ‘Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age’, to enhance the competitiveness of the net-zero industry and support the low-carbon transition. The Plan sets out actions to support European manufacturers of net-zero technologies and products, with the aim of improving performance and upscaling production to meet net-zero by 2050 while supporting growth in sustainable jobs.
The Plan is based around four pillars, each with several planned initiatives.
A predictable and simplified regulatory environment
In Spring of 2023, the European Commission will introduce three pieces of legislation to boost industrial competitiveness. Firstly, a Net-Zero Industry Act will provide a simplified regulatory framework for manufacturing products essential for the low-carbon transition, such as batteries, wind turbines, heat pumps, solar technologies, and electrolysers. It will also provide goals for industrial capacity by 2030, seek to streamline permitting and increase member state administrative capacities, and establish ‘regulatory sandboxes’ to enable policy experimentation.
A Critical Raw Materials Act will look to secure supplies by engaging with international partners, as well as developing recycling and re-processing to support the circular economy. A proposal for reforming Electricity Market Design will ensure that industry and consumers are able to benefit from low-cost renewables.
Faster access to funding
To enable member states to support their green industries, the Commission will look into measures to facilitate use of EU funds for clean tech innovation, including the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Innovation Fund, InvestEU and REPowerEU (which received new guidelines, published alongside the Industry Plan). The EC will also propose revisions to competition policy, including a Temporary State Aid Crisis and Transition Framework and update the General Block Exemption Regulation to increase thresholds for green investments.
In the longer term, the Commission will propose a European Sovereignty Fund to support multi-country projects under Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and maintain a competitive edge in emerging technologies.
As new skills and jobs will be required for the green transition, the Commission will support skill development via a Net-Zero Industry Academies in strategic areas such as raw materials, hydrogen, solar technologies, and sustainable construction. It will also look to improve recognition of qualifications and align funds for training and education under the European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund, and Just Transition Mechanism.
Open trade for resilient supply chains
The final pillar focuses on global co-operation and enhanced trade, including new Free Trade Agreements, establishing a Critical Raw Materials Club between consuming and producing countries to ensure stable supplies, and creating Net-Zero Industrial Partnerships to promote global adoption of sustainable technologies.
For more information, see the Commission’s Communication on ‘A Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age’.