Tonight at 3:30am, on 7 February 2024, a preliminary political agreement on the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) was reached at interinstitutional level. MEP Henrike Hahn (The Greens/EFA), industrial policy speaker and deputy speaker of the German delegation of the German Greens, shadow rapporteur for STEP in the Committee on Budgets (BUDG), comments:
“With STEP we are now in Europe going one step further for financing green, competitive industrial policy in Europe. In times of massive investment gaps in the green transformation, high energy prices and the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, we urgently need strong investment packages for our European industry and SMEs. Parliament and the Council are now with STEP paving the way for urgently needed first European steps.
By introducing a new STEP quality seal and adapting existing funding programs, we are making it easier for regional and national authorities and the Commission to specifically identify projects that contribute to the EU's economic independence and competitiveness.
Companies that contribute to digital and green transformation can in this way receive funding more quickly and reliably and tax money is used sensibly. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies in Europe will benefit from this.
Green industrial policy investments at the European level are far from where they should be - they are still a drop in the ocean.
The refusal of some member states including a German finance minister to set up a strong sovereignty fund financed by new EU own resources is completely out of time. For some, the national branding of industrial policy successes is more important than joining forces to support European companies.
STEP and the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework have not been used nearly enough to further advance a competitive industry that takes climate protection into account in Europe.
A quiet commitment to potentially expand STEP in three years is clearly not enough. Hesitation is not the right approach here. China does not wait until Europe has woken up.
Cohesion funds will make a key contribution to European and green industrial policy. But it must also be made clear that disproportionately plundering cohesion funds and using them in STEP cannot be the right way.
On the side of the European Parliament, we Greens have ensured that funds benefit both Europe's powerhouses and regions with less scope for investment.
When calculating the contribution of cohesion funds to combating climate change, it was important to us Greens that there is no greenwashing in the EU budget.
A personal success for me is that projects selected under the STEP quality seal cannot be relocated outside of the EU. We also require companies to comply with existing labour laws and collective agreements. This ensures that funding with European money goes to and stays where we want to have it and that EU tax money is only spent under the highest possible ecological and social standards. European financial industrial support remains in Europe.”
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.