Published: Wed, 20 September 2023
Commenting on the Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union Address in Strasbourg today, Seán Kelly MEP stated “earlier this week, I called on the Commission President to come forward with proposals on green and digital challenges facing the European Union. I am pleased to see the President address several of the key priorities that I had outlined, such as the scaling up of renewables, working with farmers and business on green policies, and promoting online safety. Now I hope to see these commitments become reality.”
“I called on the President to focus on the mass scaling up of renewables in the EU. The EU has committed to a 55% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, having worked on the Renewable Energy Directive in the Parliament, I understand that we will not achieve this target without significant investment in our solar, wind and hydrogen capacities,” Kelly explained.
“Russia’s war in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, demonstrated clearly the risks associated with relying on a third country for our gas supply. Now, China is establishing itself as a dominant player on the global solar PV and electric vehicle markets, often through unfair trading practices. Europe cannot find itself, again, dependent on a single third country for critical energy resources. For this reason, I am pleased hear the President’s support for the EU’s Net Zero Industry Act, which I worked on earlier this year. This Act focuses on scaling up of Europe’s domestic industry for solar PV, wind turbines, and batteries, amongst other net zero technologies. Once concluded, I hope to see swift implementation of the Act by the Commission, accompanied by adequate funding.”
Kelly welcomed the President’s acknowledgement that the green transition poses challenges for certain sectors: “For the moment, the agricultural sector is feeling the brunt of much of the EU’s environmental legislation under the Green Deal. This is despite much of the positive work farmers are doing to make their practices more sustainable. We need to more dialogue and less division between policy-makers, farmers and environmentalists. The President proposed a Strategic Dialogue on the future of agriculture in the EU, this is positive as long as it is more than just a talking shop, I want farmers to feel that their voices and interests are heard in the process”.
“The same goes for industry, and SMEs in particular, the President recognised that we are relying on industry to lead the green transition through research, innovation and a decarbonisation of their traditional practices. Keeping up with new legislation under the Green Deal is undoubtable challenging for businesses, I am pleased with the creation of an SME Envoy, and I hope that it will bring meaningful results.”
“Finally, an emphasis on skills in today’s workforce was a welcome inclusion in the SOTEU address. In Ireland, businesses have highlighted that a lack of access to skilled workforce is hampering growth. We need to work with industry to roll out educational programmes, tailored to providing a skilled workforce, which can contribute to European competitiveness and economic growth. Take, for example, the construction sector. I have called for an EU skills initiative, developed in close cooperation with industry and experts, to equip installers, architects and contractors with the skills necessary to decarbonise our building stock.”
MEP Kelly concluded by congratulating the Commission President on “a well-rounded and thoughtful speech”.