Europe seeks to fast-track its big bets on hydrogen, 5G and blockchain

May 4, 2021, 9:47 AM UTC
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen poses as she welcomes Kosovo Prime Minister before their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on April 29, 2021.

Europe is seeking a faster roll-out of innovative projects across several countries that will help the region’s fight against climate change and accelerate the digital transformation.

The European Union’s regulatory arm is considering tools to boost cross-border initiatives in areas such as hydrogen, sustainable transport, 5G corridors and blockchain, according to a draft industrial strategy seen by Bloomberg News. Plans to join forces under the EU economic recovery package have already been signaled by a number of member states, the European Commission said in the document, due to be published on Wednesday.

“The Commission is assessing options for an effective mechanism to accelerate the implementation of such multi-country projects, enabling notably possible combination of Member States and EU financing,” it said. “The enforcement of competition rules, in particular state aid rules, will ensure that public funds for the recovery do not replace but trigger additional private investments.”

The EU has made green and digital the two pillars of its recovery plan, aiming to strengthen its leadership in the global fight against climate change, boost innovation and reduce dependence on imports of critical materials.

The bloc can help expedite big cross-border projects by simplifying permitting procedures, aiding research and help drive private investment. Under its flagship multi-country battery project, more than a dozen countries were given the green light to give at least 6.1 billion euros ($7.35 billion) in public aid to companies from Tesla Inc. to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

The draft for the revised industrial strategy also envisages the following steps to accelerate the green shift in the coming months:

  • Renewed strategy on sustainable finance and a draft law on sustainable corporate governance.
  • Proposal to impose a carbon price on imports of emissions-intensive goods through the co-called Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.
  • Proposal on European approach to Carbon Contracts for Difference as part of a planned revision of the EU Emissions Trading System.
  • Measures to support the uptake of corporate renewable Power Purchase Agreements.

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