24 September 2020, 11:51
On 16th September the President of the European Commission von der Leyen addressed the State of the European Union speech (SOTEU) to the European Parliament.
With this annual speech the President of the Commission set out the actions that the European Commission intends to take by means of legislation and other initiatives until the end of 2021.
The political priority for the Commission remains the green transition enshrined in the European Green Deal, as the ultimate goal is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To accelerate the transition, the Commission will propose to increase the 2030 target for GHG emission reduction to at least 55%. This is up from the current target of 40% and will be achieved through a series of regulatory actions to be tabled in the first half of 2021. Unlocking major investments, both private and public is key to reach this target; in this direction, President von der Leyen affirmed that 37% of the EU COVID recovery fund (the Next Generation EU) should be spent on the Green Deal objectives.
In parallel to the green transition Europe must embark on a digital transition in particular in the fields of data, artificial intelligence (AI) and infrastructure. 20 % of the EU COVID recovery fund should be spent in Digital objectives. On data, President von der Leyen stressed that the EU should make industrial data more accessible (“about 80% of industrial data is not put to use”) to maintain its leadership position.
The construction sector came under the spotlight in the speech of President von der Leyen both from the green and digital angles. Indeed, President von der Leyen stressed that buildings must be less wasteful, more sustainable and “the construction sector can even be turned from a carbon source into a carbon sink. However, this can happen “if organic building materials like wood and smart technologies like AI are applied”.
Given the profound changes that COVID-19 has brought about to the EU economy the Commission will update the March 2020 EU industry strategy, by the first half of 2021.
CECE will closely monitor the initiatives of the Commission after the SOTEU.