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25th Feb 2020

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EU must manage climate and industry together

  • 'Climate and industrial policy must go hand-in-hand if we want to create growth, jobs, and wellbeing for our citizens,' MEP Adina-Ioana Valean said (Photo: European Parliament)

Innovation, research, digitalisation, and infrastructure are set to be the main drivers of the European growth for the next decade.

The European parliament's committee on industry, research, and energy (ITRE) is one of the largest in the parliament, in terms of legislative footprint, since its principal tasks are to reinforce the EU's industrial competitiveness and create prosperous jobs.

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One of the main tasks of ITRE, chaired by centre-right Romanian MEP Adina-Ioana Valean, will be to ensure stable and clear legislation that can boost sustainable growth in the EU.

The responsibilities are many. Above all, the European industry strategy 2030 will be one of the main priorities, MEP Valean told EUobserver.

The European industry strategy 2030 aims to develop a more digital, knowledge-based, low-carbon and circular economy while keeping in mind the net-zero emissions target by 2050.

However, the committee will also have to focus on creating a solid framework for new technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, ensuring that automation does not become a threat to employment in the EU.

Europe will need blockchain applications to foster digitisation in its industries, but also big data, 5G connectivity, and security, she said.

As the previous chair of the environmental committee (ENVI), Valean believes that "climate and industrial policy must go hand-in-hand if we want to create growth, jobs, and wellbeing for our citizens".

However, she regrets that today some actors in the EU parliament still see this as an "antagonistic competition between opposing players".

"I see that things are moving in the right direction with the [new] commission presented by the president-elect Ursula von der Leyen," she said.

The committee will have to reach the balance between the successful implementation of complex policies already on the table, and developing and advancing new policies.

"We need to accelerate deployment of new, sustainable and clean-gas technologies for those industrial sectors that cannot be electrified, [and] for those that can be electrified we need to accelerate the innovation deployment," she said.

This transition will require substantial investments. But, public funding will not be enough.

European industry will need both public and private investors to be sustainable and successful, said Valean, who describes this transition as "an opportunity to enshrine this partnership for investment and change in EU law".

As the chair of ITRE, Valean believes that the energy transition must be designed in phases, where gas could be considered sustainable, at least for the first stage, to facilitate the rapid replacement of coal.

"The Green New Deal has to be a cross-sector one where finance, industry, technology, and climate meet and cooperate," she said.

However, Europe must accelerate the full digitalisation of its industries and services to be able to benefit from the advantages that technology and research can offer.

The coordinators of the ITRE committee, who manage their political groups' viewpoint on the topics before the committee, are Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany), Dan Nica (S&D, Romania), Martina Dlabajová (Renew, Czech Republic), Ville Niinistö (Greens/EFA, Finland), Paolo Borchia (ID, Italy), Zdzislaw Krasnodebski (ECR, Poland) and Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL, Portugal).

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.
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