How do we want to reach the pathway towards a digital and climate neutral Europe? The European Commission is currently asking this question in a broad consultation to cooperatively determine the pathway for Europe’s future as the first climate neutral continent.
Is the path already the target?
The European Union has set itself the target of becoming the first climate neutral continent and to lead Europe as best as possible towards a digital and green future. Based on the New European Industrial Strategy (2020), the European Climate Law (2020) and the Annual Single Market Report (2021), the European Commission identified fourteen major industrial sectors, which are relevant to the European economy, so-called “ecosystems”. Succeeding in building a digital and climate neutral future,requires the development of transition pathways for these industrial ecosystems. This calls for broad participation and wide-ranging discussions covering a variety of pathways and solution strategies.
The European Commission has now launched a consultation in respect of each of the fourteen industrial ecosystems to identify the most important cornerstones, thrusts and challenges towards a digital future and climate neutrality. In terms of industrial policy, attention must also be paid to potential supply shortages, strategic dependencies, investment needs and above all the necessary skills, abilities and qualifications for restructuring economy and society.
Decarbonise this! The transformation of energy-intensive industries
One of the first consulted transition pathways was concerned with energy-intensive industries. The industrial sector is crucial for the entire European economy as it significantly contributes to value added, employment and innovation. Apart from that, working relations in countries with a strong industrial base are less adversarial and more stable. The industry also fulfils another key function within the meaning of high quality and contemporary training – both in respect of initial as well as further training. This in turn is decisively influencing the innovation process, as well trained people are also innovative in the production process.
This also shows that decarbonising energy-intensive industries can only succeed if its close link with social aspects is being recognised. A transition towards climate neutrality and thus towards CO2-free industries will only be successful if people are put at the centre of decarbonisation strategies and measures. Hence, what is required is linking strategic targets, a close connection with an active employment policy and taking account of changing distribution effects.
Apart from regional considerably differing challenges, corresponding strategic guidance and active management of change, involving all relevant stakeholders at all political levels is also required. A Just Transition must not only be the target, but also the prerequisite for these efforts.
A&W Blog: EU industrial policy (german only)
A&W Blog: Industrial strategy update (german only)