Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon from Brussels.
We cannot choose whether or not a crisis happens. But we can choose how we respond to that crisis.
I believe that in the years to come, we will look back on this moment with pride, as the one when we made the choice that the energy transition would be a key driver to lift us out of the COVID crisis and into recovery.
Prior to the arrival of COVID, we had set our sights in Europe on leading the way in the clean energy transition. We set out the objective to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This choice was about sustainable development, but also about growth. About making our economy and industry more competitive, modern, innovative. And after the COVID crisis, this has become an imperative: there is no way back, we can only come out of this crisis if we look forward.
Since almost day one of the pandemic, we have heard the same question being asked over again:
“When will we be able to go back to normal”.
When it comes to energy, we don’t want to go back to normal. Let’s not forget that our old “normal” was leading us to irreversible damage for our planet and way of life.
COVID has presented us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to leapfrog ahead in our target for climate neutrality.
This is why we are putting the green transition at the heart of our plans for recovery. Last July, EU leaders agreed on an unprecedented recovery package.
- Our recovery programme will be reinforced by the largest ever multi-annual budget for the EU;
- Green and sustainable projects will be at the core of our investment priorities;
- Each national recovery plan supported by our recovery instrument will have to include at least 37% of climate-related expenditure.
- And all other EU supported investments will have to ‘do no harm’ to our environment.
This means massive, quick investment where is needed, and where it matters: digital and clean energy. These investments will drive a green and job rich recovery.
And the good thing is that this is not a top down plan. Our EU goals are based on national plans where each Member State develops solutions that best suit their own national context. All Member States agreed in December to the Commission's proposal for a EU 2030 emission reduction target of at least 55%.
By investing in renewable energy sources, grid infrastructure, renovations and energy efficiency we want to reduce energy costs, boost competitiveness, improve air quality, create local jobs and become a powerhouse of clean energy innovation.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
Our challenge is to provide a short-term stimulus while building long-term resilience. It’s no easy challenge. But it is a challenge common to all of us. As Europe, we are ready to work together with all partners to build a better economy and a better planet.