President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola in Strasbourg on March 15, 2023.
Strasbourg – MEPs, as well as the European Commission, expect a solution to competitiveness from the summit of presidents and prime ministers of the European Union of the EU economy in light green transformation and economic relations with China and the United States. Support for Ukraine in defense against Russian invasion and migration continues to be a fundamental topic for them. The leaders of EU member states will meet in Brussels next week.
“For many years, trade has been our sacred tool, bringing prosperity, development and improving the lives of our citizens. And while we are masters at negotiating measures, we are less successful at implementing them,” European Council President Charles Michel told MEPs in Strasbourg in his opening speech .
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, continued in a similar spirit. Last week, she discussed with US President Joe Biden in Washington, among other things, better conditions for European companies after the US government adopted the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). He expects to invest billions in climate protection and subsidies to American industry. In the EU, it raised concerns about a competitive disadvantage, because part of the subsidies and tax breaks are tied to American products.
Von der Leyen said that there is an obvious connection between the EU's Green Deal and the American IRA. “Both measures are at the same time a climate strategy and a strategy for investment and economic growth… but negotiations can only solve some of the most pressing problems, we have to do most of the work here in Europe,” said the president of the European Commission, stressing that in order for the Union to fulfill the inevitable goal of green transformation of the economy, must, among other things, ensure the sources of critical materials needed for the production of batteries, for example.
“Almost 98 percent of our magnesium comes from China, 97 percent of our lithium comes from China… the pandemic and the war taught us a bitter lesson about dependencies,” the EC president added, referring to Europe's dependence on Russian fossil fuels. “In Canada, I visited a company that recycles 95 percent of lithium from used batteries. This must be the future in Europe as well,” von der Leyen said. EP.
“The United States accepted the IRA a few months ago. And we are still talking about how to respond… we need a quick and unified solution,” urged Czech EP Vice-President Dita Charanzová (ANO), who reminded that the Volkswagen car manufacturer is considering whether in Europe , and possibly directly in the Czech Republic, will build a new battery factory for electric cars. However, it will build its first factory in North America in order to have access to the benefits of the IRA.
Czech MEP from the People's Party of the EPP Luděk Niedermayer (TOP 09) said that “the driving engine of the economy should not be subsidies or state support, but economic competition”. “We can pay a high price for comparing ourselves to the USA… while they (as a federation) are united, we have 20 different approaches in the individual member states,” Niedermayer added.
Migration was also a secondary topic for MEPs today . In their speeches, the President of the European Council, Michel, and the Co-Chairman of the Club of European Conservatives and Reformists, Nicola Procaccini, touched on the topic.
In connection with economic and social issues, some MEPs and von der Leyen emphasized that the European Union must get rid of red tape where possible to make it more attractive to investors and entrepreneurs.