The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, appeared this Wednesday before the plenary session of the European Parliament to give her annual speech of the state of the European Union. What could be his last intervention of this type as head of the Executive of the Community, with the horizon of the European elections in May 2024, focused on China to announce that Brussels will open an investigation against the production aid of the Asian giant’s electric vehicles. Follow the state of the European Union debate Live.
The German company focused part of its intervention on the priorities for the next year in EU relations with China and what it announced, in particular, that “the Commission will start an anti-subsidy investigation on the de electric vehicle from China.
“This is an important industry for the clean economy, with great potential for Europe. But the world markets are now flooded with cheaper Chinese cars.
“Europe is open to competition. Not in a race to the bottom,” said the head of the Community Executive in relation to China’s aid in production which, he said, distorts competition in the single market. “Just as we don’t accept it from the inside, we also don’t accept it from the outside,” he said.
The idea is not to completely break ties with Beijing, although Von der Leyen reiterated the need to reduce the risks to the Asian country by maintaining, in any case, open lines of communication. The ideas, all of them, that are consistent with the position adopted by the Executive of the Community of the Asian giant in the course of 2023 and that consider the weight of such a trade relationship for countries like Germany, and the new or geopolitical tensions in Beijing.
“We have not forgotten how China’s unfair trade practices have affected our solar industry,” Von der Leyen stressed about the Asian country’s trade tensions. He mentioned, in this sense, the fact that many young European companies were driven out of the market by competitors from Beijing who were given large subsidies and, as a result, had to face bankruptcy.
“That’s why equity in the global economy is so important, because it affects lives and livelihoods. Entire industries and communities depend on it,” the German argued. Therefore, the head of the Community Executive drew attention to the fact that European companies are often “not included in foreign markets” or “victims of aggressive practices.”
In addition, it undermined Beijing’s restrictions on the export of gallium and germanium, two minerals essential for the production of microchips and solar panels. “This shows why it is very important for Europe to take a step forward in terms of economic security,” he added.
In fact, it was not Beijing’s decision to veto the export of these two key minerals for the production of semiconductors that did not go well with the community bloc. Tensions on the world stage are growing in the heat of the Asian giant’s protectionist policies and pressure from the United States for the EU to also impose measures on China that limit access to chip-making components. And all this with a three-way race, in the background, to lead the future of the clean technology industry worldwide.
To improve the competitiveness of the clean technology industry in the community, the president of the European Commission announced a package for the wind energy industry. A measure that will include speeding up the granting of permits, improving the EU’s public auction system, access to financing and stable supply chains.
“But it is more than one sector: from wind power to steel, from batteries to electric vehicles, our ambition is very clear: the future of our clean technology industry must be made in Europe,” he stressed. . And in his speech he emphasized that in the last five years “the number of clean steel factories in the EU has gone from zero to 38” and that the EU is now attracting “more investment in clean hydrogen than the United States and China together”.
“I asked Mario Draghi – one of Europe’s leading economists – to prepare a report on the future of European competitiveness. plan.
Considering the importance of the raw materials sector for the green industry and for European competitiveness, Von der Leyen looked at the model implemented by the EU to solve the high energy prices derived from the Russian war on Ukraine and encouraged to copy the formula of. the raw material and clean part of hydrogen.
With a view to diversifying supply to access critical minerals, the head of the Community Executive asked to conclude free trade agreements with Australia, Mexico and Mercosur “by the end of this year” and in India and Indonesia “soon.” .
The Russian military invasion of Ukraine is another one of the issues where the German intervention works. “The Commission proposes to extend our temporary protection to Ukrainians in the EU,” stressed the head of the Community Executive, recalling that, this year, the bloc has contributed 12 billion euros to help pay salaries and pensions, as well as assistance. maintain hospitals, schools and other services in the country.
Therefore, he recalled a message heard repeatedly in the plenary session of the European Parliament: “the future of Ukraine is in our Union. The future of the Western Balkans is in our Union. The future of Moldova is in our Union ” And I know how important the perspective of the EU is to many people in Georgia.
Accordingly, he mentioned the enlargement of the EU in his speech. With the vision of a community bloc made up of 30 countries, Von der Leyen promoted the intention of the European Commission to implement political reforms to, in 2024, face the future integration of the EU in Ukraine and the Balkans.
With the memory of the outbreak of the current pandemic, the German emphasized how the Next Generation funds serve as a factor to prevent the destruction of work. However, the lack of skilled labor in some sectors is currently a problem for the EU.
“Instead of millions of people looking for work, millions of jobs are looking for people. The shortage of workers and qualified personnel has reached record levels, here and in the -first economy, “explained the head of the Executive of the Community. , with thus proposed improving access to the labor market for young people and women and coping with profound technological and social changes.
In addition, the president of the European Commission asked to reach an agreement on the reform of the financial rules before the end of the current legislature, one of the major pending economic reforms, and called not to return to agenda. Pact.