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Cleaning up industry: why the EU’s strategy isn’t enough yet


The new EU Industrial Strategy, released by the European Commission on 10 March 2020 as part of a larger industrial package, is the first sector-specific plan to be published since the European Green Deal was announced. It is an opportunity to put the EU economy on track towards climate neutrality, and put climate action at the heart of the EU’s economic recovery from the health crisis, by making a clear case for the decarbonisation of industries. The climate neutrality objective was endorsed by the European Council on 20 December 2019 and included in the 2020 EU Climate Law legislative proposal

However, the new Industrial Strategy fails to capture how and by when EU Industries will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions or manufacture climate-neutral products. Rather than providing clear overarching objectives for industry, it mainly compiles old strategies on competitiveness and announces new initiatives (i.e. the creation of ‘Industrial Ecosystems & Alliances’). There is no mention of intermediate and long-term decarbonisation targets. Moreover, the Strategy fails to stress the competitive advantage that the low-carbon and digital transitions would bring. 

The Industrial Strategy is now in the hands of the European Parliament and the Council for discussion. The European Parliament has now drafted an own-initiative report on Industrial Transformation, scheduled to be voted upon by the Industry, Research, Telecoms & Energy (ITRE) Committee in mid-July; and in plenary for September 2020.  At the time of writing, the European Parliament also decided to draft an own-initiative report on the Circular Economy, with the Environment (ENVI) Committee leading on it.

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