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NewsVon de Leyen at event 'Europe 2022: Towards A Competitive Europe': "Europe...

Von de Leyen at event ‘Europe 2022: Towards A Competitive Europe’: “Europe is at the forefront of a global movement”

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The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, enforcing EU laws and directing the union's administrative operations. Commissioners swear an oath at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg City, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate. (Wikipedia)
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Speech by President von der Leyen at the annual kick-off event of Der Tagesspiegel, DIE ZEIT, Handelsblatt and WirtschaftsWoche: ‘Europe 2022: Towards A Competitive Europe’.

(translated with Deepl. Original text in German here)

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hardly any of you probably know that 12 October last year marks a historic date. On that day, the EU issued €12 billion in green bonds. This is not only the largest ever sustainable investment transaction. Above all, Europe could have sold eleven times that amount of bonds on that day, so great was the interest. Such examples do not only exist in the bond markets. Sustainable products are on the rise everywhere – from electric cars to green steel made with hydrogen. Because citizens have long since set out to protect the planet. And the same goes for businesses and SMEs. They have set out on the path to a form of economic activity that preserves our natural resources as well as our prosperity.

And that is what I would like to talk about today. About how Europe supports you, the citizens, and our economy on this path. Because there is virtually no area of climate protection in which Europe does not play a decisive role.

Europe is at the forefront of a global movement that combines both climate protection and sustainable growth. The European Commission launched the European Green Deal two years ago. And a good six months ago, we cast its goals into the first European climate protection law.

We want to be the first climate-neutral continent on earth by 2050. To achieve this, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030.

In doing so, we are delivering what climate activists as well as Europe’s business community have been demanding for years: Clear, credible and reliable targets. This provides planning security in the here and now. And it demands pioneering work from us. We Europeans are responsible for only eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But we are the third largest global economic power. That is why everyone is watching how we manage the path to a sustainable circular economy. And many in the world are now following our lead, such as the USA or Japan, South Korea or South Africa.

Because they also know that the global demand for clean technologies in climate protection will increase rapidly worldwide, and they want to be in the competition. If we succeed in mastering the climate crisis, it will only be through innovation, new processes, clean technologies. And the continent that masters these processes will have the jobs and the companies of the future.

That is why it is so important to underpin our goals with concrete projects. Europe is the first major economy to present a roadmap on how we will achieve our goals – sector by sector, industry by industry.

In doing so, we are relying on tried and tested instruments of our social market economy, for example emissions trading. Those who pollute with CO2 have to pay. This promotes, for example, the switch to clean energy sources and thus also contributes to greater energy security. We use the proceeds to invest in renewable energies, smarter cars, more high-speed train connections and green hydrogen. And we invest in the energy-efficient refurbishment of buildings. Because there is huge potential for CO2 savings, especially in transport and in the heating and cooling of buildings. We have to get to work!

This is where NextGenerationEU comes in. NextGenerationEU is our reconstruction programme with a total of 800 billion euros. We have deliberately named this largest European investment and reform programme NextGenerationEU. Because if we are now raising money together in Europe on the capital market to overcome the economic consequences of Corona, then at the same time we must also invest where it will be crucial for the next generation.

That is digitalisation and that is the European Green Deal. One third of NextGenerationEU is earmarked for investments in climate protection. And the good news is that most Member States go well beyond this target in their plans.

At the same time, we will ensure that our European Green Deal becomes an opportunity for all. Because only if we take everyone with us will we be successful in the fight against climate change. Everyone has to join in – the task is huge. But people on low incomes find it harder to switch to clean cars or climate-friendly heating, for example. They need support.

That is why we will introduce a social climate fund with proceeds from the expanded certificate trade. All in all, it should amount to 144 billion euros. Because the modernisation of our economy will only succeed if we can all participate. That is the core of the social market economy. And the same principles guide us in our European Green Deal.

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