State of the European Union: Impact of EU measures on the Northern Netherlands
On September 14, the State of the European Union took place in Strasbourg. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, presented the vision for Europe for the coming year to the European Parliament.
Her speech called for, among other things, solidarity with Ukraine and was focussed on the war on the European border, the ensuing energy crisis and European energy independence with accompanying measures.
What does this mean for the Northern Netherlands?
The speech mentioned several topics that are important for the Northern Netherlands, namely energy and stability of the economy. The energy crisis is being felt throughout Europe, resulting in appropriate solutions being sought at both the national and European level. The Northern Netherlands has the ability to contribute to this.
Europe must reduce its energy dependence on Russia. That is why Europe has agreed to store gas. The target has already been achieved: Europe now has 83% of the total need for the winter stored. However, gas and energy prices are too high – 10 times higher compared to last year. That is why the European Commission is proposing plans to reduce energy consumption on the one hand and to invest in sustainable energy generation, such as hydrogen, on the other. Specifically, the EC proposes the following measures on green hydrogen generation:
- The EU will continue to develop renewable energy sources and expand its hydrogen market. The EU will set up a Hydrogen Bank with 3 billion euros from the Innovation Fund. This is in line with the objectives of the Green Deal.
- With RePowerEU, the EC aims to produce 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030.
These measures offer prospects for the Northern Netherlands to play a significant part in ameliorating the energy crisis. As the first European Hydrogen Valley, we can use our knowledge and experience to cooperate with the rest of Europe in searching for sustainable and consistent alternatives for the current gas and electricity market.
Stability of the economy
With the NextGeneration EU plan, the European Commission has aimed to mitigate the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. A total of 100 billion euros has been divided among the Member States and put aside, which means that another 700 billion euros must be distributed and put aside. In particular, the European Commission wants to ensure that Member States use these funds for renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy, and sustainable mobility. This is entirely in line with the plans of our cabinet, as presented during Prinsjesdag (Budget Day).
SMEs and future prospects for the labor market
A favorable business climate will be supported by the EC with a labor market with the right skills for the future and better access to raw materials for industry. Specifically, the following is also proposed for SMEs:
- An SME support package - the so-called BEFIT - with improved tax rules and rules for business in Europe;
- Revision of the Late Payment Directive – so that especially small businesses do not get into trouble due to late payments.
- The year 2023 will be the year of education – with an eye on the right skills for the future.
These measures provide a good perspective for our Northern ambitions: to accelerate our sustainable transitions we need (new) specific skills. For example to achieve the goals of the Just Transition Fund (JTF), that is designed to provide a safety net for the economic and social effects of the European Climate transition.
The European Commission is now examining how the measures can be deployed. Both national and regional efforts are taken into account. With these measures, the Northern Netherlands can contribute to not only national, but also European challenges, while supporting regional interests.