Decarbonisation of economy must be balanced, says Počivalšek

Brussels – Decarbonisation of the economy must be evenly spread across sectors and EU countries, said Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek after Wednesday’s session of EU ministers in charge of competitiveness, who gathered in Brussels to discuss the impact of the Fit for 55 package on the competitiveness of the European economy.

Key proposals in the Fit for 55 environmental legislative package, which is to reduce emissions by at least 55% compared to the 1990 levels by 2030, include a social climate fund, an extension of the emissions trading scheme to buildings and road transport, and a mechanism to tackle carbon-intensive imports.

Today’s session heard warnings about the need to avoid an uneven distribution of the burden between different sectors of the economy and society, said Počivalšek, who chairs certain discussions of the EU’s Competitiveness Council during the Slovenian EU presidency.

The ministers also highlighted the need for a predictable regulatory environment that would provide the right incentives for an internationally competitive European industry, deeming the expansion of the emissions trading system the biggest challenge.

They agreed that an abundant availability of affordable decarbonised electricity is a prerequisite for the success of Fit for 55 and the green transition, Počivalšek said at a press conference after the session.

During the debate, Austria pointed out that ministers in charge of competitiveness were the voice of companies and employees, noting that it was not just about meeting green targets but also about preserving jobs in Europe.

A number of countries, including Germany, said that meeting the emission reduction targets should be worthwhile from a business point of view. The European Commission meanwhile argues that the package is definitely also a major business opportunity.

The debate took place against a backdrop of concerns about rising energy prices, a trend that EU Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said was related in particular to the growth in global demand and the unusual decline in supply, and to a lesser extent to the emissions trading scheme.

The Commission will unveil proposals to tackle the rise in energy prices next week, he said. Eurozone finance ministers will discuss this on Monday. The issue is expected to be on the agenda of the October EU summit as well.

The ministers also discussed today the Commission’s Better Regulation report. This part of the debate was chaired by Slovenian Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik, who underlined that the EU needed an evidence-based, innovation-friendly and future-proof relevant framework.