The European Parliament today adopted the report on the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) with 385 votes in favour (85 against and 151 abstentions). MEP Henrike Hahn (The Greens/EFA), industrial policy speaker and deputy speaker of the German delegation of the German Greens, shadow rapporteur for the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) in the Committee on Budgets (BUDG), comments:
“STEP can only be a first step towards a fully-fledged sovereignty fund financed through new EU own resources to strengthen a competitive industry in Europe - especially in times of an Inflation Reduction Act in the US and high energy prices. We cannot wait and hesitate here. China and the US are not waiting until we in Europe finally decide to promote green industrial policy in small steps. Only a competitive industrial policy that also practically spells out climate protection as well can create and maintain prosperity in Europe in the long term.
With STEP, we are now specifically making existing funds such as the Innovation Fund, InvestEU or Horizon available for the promotion of green and digital technologies of the future while Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies in Europe will benefit from this.
By introducing a 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 can contribute to the EU's economic resilience and competitiveness. In this way, we ensure that companies that contribute to digital and green transformation can receive funding more quickly and reliably.
We have now worked together in the European Parliament - with a progressive majority - to create a financing package that supports both Europe's power house regions and those member states that have less means for investments than others.
When supporting large companies and SMEs, we need an appropriate balance and also adequate consideration of the European regions. It is correct to focus on supporting SMEs through STEP - but large companies should not be excluded outright.
The cohesion funds will make an important contribution to European green industrial policy. However, one thing must be clear: cohesion funds for valuable programs and funding sources must not be disproportionately plundered for STEP. To drain the Just Transition Fund - an important EU project that brings together competitiveness, decarbonisation and social justice - is simply wrong.
STEP needs clear, new, solidly counter-financed and strong financial resources - and not budgetary shifts and calculation tricks that deduct funds from sensible programs, as we are experiencing now.
Thanks to the Greens/EFA, STEP does not provide additional funding for nuclear dinosaur technologies - that is a good thing. In addition to the current European Parliament perspective, we Greens also demand a STEP label that excludes nuclear projects with 100 percent clarity - that is why it is important for us to examine all projects under the STEP quality seal accordingly.
A personal success for me is that projects selected under the STEP quality seal cannot be relocated outside of the EU. This ensures that funding with European money goes and stays where we want it. STEP funding benefits targeted European projects for a green, competitive industry.
For a competitive green industrial policy, we need not just small steps, but large, committed and freshly financed steps - but above all a strong sovereignty fund - ideally today and not just tomorrow.”
STEP does not set up new funding programs - as demanded by the European Parliament with the Sovereignty Fund - but provides for the awarding of a quality seal through which projects can be identified that can contribute to the economic resilience and competitiveness of the EU.
Furthermore, through STEP existing funding programmes will be adapted so that they can more directly contribute to strengthening of the EU's economic resilience and competitiveness. This way it will be easier for national and regional authorities as well as the EU to allocate funding to projects that can contribute to meeting the objectives formulated in STEP.
While STEP projects can potentially benefit from all EU funding programmes, if they are selected through a call for tender, the following funding programs have been explicitly included in the position of the European Parliament.
- Innovation Fund
- Cohesion Fund, European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund
- Just Transition Fund
- European Innovation Council
- European Defence Fund
- Recovery and Resilience Facility
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.