Europe responds US green subsidies with $270 billion deal
Stung by the Biden administration’s huge green subsidy program, the European Union unveiled plans for its own “Green Deal” Wednesday to cut red tape and deliver tax breaks.
The Green Deal Industrial Plan will “enhance the competitiveness of Europe’s net-zero industry” by simplifying regulation, speeding up access to finance, enhancing skills and building “resilient” supply chains through new trade deals, the European Commission said in a statement.
The proposals, which will be debated by EU leaders next week, would make €250 billion ($272 billion) available from existing EU funds for the greening of industry, including offering tax breaks to businesses investing in net-zero technologies.
Greener than Green
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the package of measures will ensure a “level playing field” globally. “Europe is determined to lead the clean tech revolution,” she added in the statement.
Von der Leyen and other EU leaders have stressed the need to roll out a bold investment package for green projects in response to the Inflation Reduction Act — the US government’s flagship climate legislation that will channel $369 billion towards clean energy projects.
EU leaders are worried that tax breaks for American companies, which amount to $270 billion, will disadvantage European firms and lure them to the United States.
It is all about discrimination
Several EU officials criticized the Inflation Reduction Act at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, leading to speculation that a tit-for-tat subsidy fight may be brewing.
Speaking on a panel, Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU commissioner for trade, said that while the largest climate investment in US history was commendable, Europe’s “concern is that it is done in a discriminatory way.”
“It’s not helping to build transatlantic value chains on the green transition, but rather actually severing those value chains,” he added.
In a document detailing its new green industry plan, the European Commission also fingered China, saying it has provided green subsidies at a level twice as high as those in the European Union, relative to GDP.
“Europe and its partners must do more to combat the effect of such unfair subsidies and prolonged market distortion,” it added.
Net Zero Industry Act
The EU green plan proposes a loosening of state aid rules that would allow member states to match the aid offered by a third country for initial investments into “targeted” sectors relevant to the net-zero transition.
It also makes provision for a European Sovereignty Fund to ensure Europe has an edge on “critical and emerging technologies” such as microelectronics and artificial intelligence.
Also proposed in the plan is the Net Zero Industry Act, which would speed up the issuance of permits for green projects, and the Critical Raw Materials Act, which would aim to secure the EU supply of rare earth minerals vital to developing net-zero technologies.