Corona and the EU Green Deal

In their joint response to the pandemic, Europe and Germany are coupling economic and environmental policy in order to make climate neutrality a reality by 2050.

October, 2020

While the coronavirus has dominated the agenda of all European governments since spring 2020, the EU’s Green Deal has also taken on new significance, with demands growing in many member states for stimulus efforts to be aligned with the Paris Agreement.

All the way back in April, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a European Parliament plenary that responding to the corona crisis meant “doubling down on our growth strategy by investing in the European Green Deal.” She added: “As the global recovery picks up, global warming will not slow down. First-mover advantage will count double, and finding the right projects to invest in will be key.”

Brussels, July 8, 2020: Frans Timmermans, European Commission VP in charge of the European Green Deal, holds a joint press conference with the EU Commissioner for energy, Kadri Simson.

© picture alliance/AA

The Green Deal aims to ensure Europe is climate-neutral across the board by 2050. It mandates that existing European legislation be reviewed for compatibility with climate goals. It also proposes new policies on everything from the circular economy and building renovation to biodiversity and farming, foreseeing at least EUR 1 trillion in sustainable investments over the next ­decade.

“I think corks will have been popping in quite a few boardrooms,” says Esther Frey, head of Energy, Building & Environmental Technologies at GTAI. “Making the 2050 climate-neutrality target legally binding across the EU creates new certainty about the direction from now on – and that is good for businesses in cleantech. The target suggests that there will be big orders in the wind, solar and biofuels industries as well as emerging technologies like Power-to-X and green hydrogen.”

The Green Deal is extremely broad – energy is just one of its many topics – and Germany, as one of 27 member states, is only part of the picture. Nonetheless, Frey considers certain aspects of the Green Deal particularly relevant for Germany.

“The EU Commission has promised to revise state aid rules with a focus on industrial groupings like the new Clean Hydrogen Alliance,” she says, referring to an initiative to support the widespread deployment of hydrogen technologies by 2030 (see our story on pages 24-27). “European alliances like this have proved their worth in the past, for example in battery production.”

German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier has also called for an overhaul of European merger and competition rules to allow European champions to compete on the world stage. Other member states have joined him and the EU Commission will make a proposal next year.