The plan aims to create a more supportive environment for scaling up EU manufacturing capacity for the net-zero technologies and products needed to meet Europe’s ambitious climate targets.
The plan builds on previous initiatives and draws on the strengths of the EU’s internal market, complementing ongoing efforts under the European Green Deal and REPowerEU. It is based on four pillars: a predictable and simplified regulatory environment, faster access to finance, improving skills and open trade for resilient supply chains.
The first pillar of the plan is about a simpler regulatory framework.
The Commission will propose a Net-Zero Industry Act to set targets for net-zero industrial capacity and provide a regulatory framework suitable for its rapid deployment, ensuring simplified and fast-track permitting, promoting European strategic projects and developing standards to support the scale-up of technologies across the internal market.
The framework will be complemented by the Critical Raw Materials Act to ensure sufficient access to those materials, such as rare earths, that are essential for the production of key technologies, and by reforming the design of the electricity market to allow consumers to benefit from the lower costs of renewable energy.
The second pillar of the plan will accelerate investment and financing for clean technology manufacturing in Europe. Public funding, combined with further progress on the European Capital Markets Union, can unlock the huge amounts of private finance needed for the green transition. Through competition policy, the Commission aims to ensure a level playing field in the internal market, while making it easier for Member States to grant the aid needed to accelerate the green transition. To this end, in order to speed up and simplify the granting of aid, the Commission will consult Member States on a revised Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework for state aid and will revise the General Block Exemption Regulation in the light of the Green Deal, raising the notification thresholds for support for green investments. This will, inter alia, help to further streamline and simplify the approval of IPCEI-related projects.
The Commission will also facilitate the use of existing EU funds to finance clean technology innovation, manufacturing and deployment. The Commission is also exploring ways to achieve greater joint financing at EU level to support investment in the manufacturing of net zero technologies, based on an ongoing assessment of investment needs. In the short term, the Commission will work with Member States, focusing on REPowerEU, InvestEU and the Innovation Fund, on a bridging solution to provide rapid and targeted support. In the medium term, the Commission intends to provide a structural response to investment needs by proposing a European Sovereignty Fund in the context of the review of the Multiannual Financial Framework before summer 2023.
To help Member States access REPowerEU funds, the Commission today adopted new guidance on recovery and resilience plans, explaining the process for amending existing plans and the modalities for preparing REPowerEU chapters.
As between 35% and 40% of all jobs could be affected by the green transition, developing the skills needed for well-paid, quality jobs will be a priority for the European Year of Skills and the third pillar of the plan will focus on this.
To develop the skills for a people-centred green transition, the Commission will propose the creation of Net-Zero Industry Academies to develop up-skilling and re-skilling programmes in strategic industries. It will also consider how to combine a ‘skills first’ approach, recognising actual skills, with existing approaches based on qualifications, and how to facilitate access of third country nationals to EU labour markets in priority sectors, as well as measures to promote and align public and private funding for skills development.