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Experts estimate that about half of the German electric vehicles registered in the United States are leased. While the scale of the U.S. subsidies has attracted most attention, the EU has large potential resources of its own. THE REAL PROBLEM"The amounts of subsidies in Europe are in line or even more than those in the United States, that is not the problem," said one senior European Union official. "The real problems are the incentives to make firms move production to the United States," said the official, referring to the local content requirements. To ensure Europe can compete with the United States, the European Commission on Wednesday proposed measures including loosening EU state aid rules and repurposing existing EU funds.
BRUSSELS, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The European Commission presented its Green Deal Industrial Plan on Wednesday in response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), with increased levels of state aid to help Europe compete as a manufacturing hub for clean tech products. The Treasury is set to provide guidelines in March for electric vehicles bought by consumers, but there appears less room for manoeuvre. The European Commission and the White House have set up a high-level task force to discuss the issue. France has led calls for Europe to respond with state support of its own for European companies, including through a "buy European act" and large-scale subsidies. Longer term, the European Commission says it will propose a European Sovereignty Fund, but it is unclear how it will operate and how it will be funded.
"Major economies are rightly stepping up investment in net zero industries," von der Leyen told a news conference. And we want to be an important part of this net-zero industry that we need globally," von der Leyen said. RESISTANCEThe European Commission is hoping member states will back its plan at a Feb.9-10 summit but it faces a hot debate. Solar sector industry group SolarPower Europe said it was concerned by what it called a "lack of focus" on specific technologies in the EU plan. The bloc is heavily reliant on China for rare earths and lithium, which are vital materials for the green transition.
The plan is partly a response to multi-billion-dollar support programmes of China and the United States, including the latter's Inflation Reduction Act. Many EU leaders are concerned that the local content requirements of its $369 billion of green subsidies will encourage companies to relocate, making the United States a leader in green tech at Europe's expense. RESISTANCEThe European Commission is hoping member states will back its plan at a Feb.9-10 summit but huge chunks are likely to be hotly debated among member states. There is also clear opposition from some EU members to previous suggestions that the plan could entail further joint borrowing. The bloc is heavily reliant on China for rare earths and lithium, which are vital materials for the green transition.
The plan is partly a response to multi-billion-dollar support programmes of China and the United States, including the latter's Inflation Reduction Act. Many EU leaders are concerned that the local content requirements of its $369 billion of green subsidies will encourage companies to relocate, making the United States a leader in green tech at Europe's expense. Longer term, the Commission will propose creating a European Sovereignty Fund to invest in emerging technologies. The bloc is heavily reliant on China for rare earths and lithium, which are vital materials for the green transition. The EU executive also wants to seal more free trade agreements and partnerships to make supply chains more resilient and to open markets for green goods.
FASTER PERMITSClean tech firms could be in line for simpler rules and fast-tracked permits to build production facilities in Europe. The EU executive said it would produce a "Net-Zero Industry Act" offering faster permits to manufacturers of technologies key to its climate goals. That could include carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, renewable hydrogen production facilities and batteries. Brussels had already slashed the time lines and simplified the rules for renewable energy projects last year. The Commission, which oversees EU trade policy, wants to increase the EU's network of trade agreements, such as those concluded with Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and Mercosur and one it aims to agree with Australia.
BRUSSELS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - EU industry chief Thierry Breton will hold a video call with Twitter owner Elon Musk on Tuesday to discuss two key EU tech initiatives, a European Commission official said on Tuesday. "The call is to discuss Twitter's implementation of the Digital Services Act and its implementation of the Code of Practice on disinformation," the official said. Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip BlenkinsopOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Instead, the draft seen by Reuters offers to re-purpose some of the money the EU has already agreed to raise jointly for its post-coronavirus pandemic recovery fund. It will also loosen state aid rules to allow governments to support their firms more. GREEN TRANSITIONThe Recovery Fund already earmarks 250 billion euros in total to be spent on the transition to a green and sustainable economy. But an additional 225 billion euros in the Recovery Fund has not even been claimed by any country because these are cheap loans and governments prefer grants. The Commission said governments will now be able to use these unclaimed loans for green industry support, along with a 5.4 billion euro reserve in the EU budget created to counter the effects of Brexit.
BRUSSELS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Euro zone economic sentiment rose to a seven-month high in January on more optimism across all sectors except construction, with inflation expectations among consumers and companies both sharply down, data showed on Monday. The European Commission's Economic Sentiment Index (ESI) rose to 99.9 this month, above an upwardly revised 97.1 in December -- the highest value of the index since June 2022. Selling price expectations among manufacturers also dropped sharply to 31.9 in January from 37.8 in December in a sign inflationary pressures early in the pipeline were receding too. The Commission said optimism in industry rose to 1.3 from -0.6 in December and in services to 10.7 from 7.7. The mood among consumers improved to -20.9 in January from -22.1 and in the retail sector to -0.8 from -2.7.
The WTO's appeals bench, which rules on top disputes, has been mothballed for over two years due to Trump-era blockages of adjudicator appointments. Under President Joe Biden, Washington has resisted calls by WTO members to approve appointments and has instead been leading negotiations on how to reboot the WTO's dispute system. "Our goal is a fully functioning (dispute system) by 2024," Deputy United States Trade Representative Maria Pagan told Reuters in her first public comments on the closed-door talks, saying Washington was "very committed" to reforms. The United States has criticized the WTO's alleged overreach and lengthy processes and it has strongly contested some of its recent rulings against the United States. Pagan described the process as "frustrating" but said she was hopeful a breakthrough had been found, without elaborating.
The EU's executive European Commission proposed similar steps vis-a-vis Iraq, Senegal and Bangladesh, though two EU officials said cooperation with Dhaka on returning people has since improved. Still, the EU's overall rate of effective returns stood at 21% in 2021, according to Eurostat data, the latest available. Some 160,000 people made it across the Mediterranean in 2022, according to U.N. data, the main route to Europe for people fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. There has therefore not been enough majority among EU countries so far to punish another country apart from Gambia, where people can no longer get multiple entry visas to the bloc and face a longer wait. While EU countries including Austria and Hungary loudly protest against the mainly-Muslim, irregular immigration from the Middle East and North Africa, Germany is among those seeking to open up their job market to much-needed workers from outside the bloc.
BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he hopes member states will approve another 500 million euro ($545.00 million) tranche in military aid for Ukraine during a foreign ministers' meeting on Monday. The ministers will also discuss using Russian assets frozen in Europe under sanctions - including 300 billion euros ($327 bln) worth of the Russian central bank reserves - and using the money to help rebuild Ukraine from the war. The foreign ministers are due to add more individuals to its Iran sanctions list over human rights abuses. Borrell said, however, that the bloc could not list Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity until an EU court has determined that they are. ($1 = 0.9174 euros)Writting by Tassilo Hummel, Gbariela Baczynska, Ingrid Melander, Bart Meijer, Philip BlenkinsopOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The European Union cannot list Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity until an EU court has determined that they are, the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Monday. The European Parliament has called on the EU to list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity, blaming it for the repression of domestic protests and the supply of drones to Russia. "It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. He said the court of an EU member had to issue a concrete legal condemnation before the EU itself could act. The Iranian regime, the Revolutionary Guards terrorise their own population day after day," Baerbock said.
REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File PhotoWASHINGTON/BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The West on Monday stepped up pressure on Iran over its crackdown on protests as the United States, European Union and United Kingdom imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran. 'BRUTAL REPRESSION'The European Union imposed sanctions on more than 30 Iranian officials and organizations, including units of the Revolutionary Guards, blaming them for a "brutal" crackdown on protesters and other human rights abuses. Those sanctions targeted units and senior officials of the IRGC across Iran, including in Sunni-populated areas where the state crackdown has been intense, a list published in the EU's Official Journal showed. Britain also imposed sanctions on more Iranian individuals and entities on Monday over the country's "brutal repression" of its people. Britain has now imposed 50 new sanctions against Iran since Amini's death, the foreign office said.
DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The European Union needs to work and trade with China on clean tech and push for a level playing field rather than seek to decouple from the world's second-largest economy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday. Von der Leyen said in a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos that China had made boosting clean tech innovation and manufacturing a key priority in its five-year plan, dominating in sectors such as electric vehicles and solar panels. China, she said, heavily subsidises its industry and restricts access to its market for EU companies. "We will still need to work and trade with China – especially when it comes to this transition. This meant using the EU's trade and domestic defence tools, such as the recently implemented foreign subsidies regulation.
The EU is concerned that European companies will move to the United States, which has a $369 billion scheme to subsidise green production. The EU will therefore provide money for its industry as well, von der Leyen said. "To keep European industry attractive, there is a need to be competitive with the offers and incentives that are currently available outside the EU," she said. For the medium term, we will prepare a European Sovereignty Fund as part of the mid-term review of our budget later this year," von der Leyen said. She said the Commission was now working on what the needs of the green industry were.
[1/2] European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson attend the inauguration of Esrange's new satellite launch ramp, Spaceport Esrange outside Kiruna, Sweden, January 13, 2023. The Commission is planning to loosen state aid rules, but some EU countries can spend more than others. Von der Leyen said the bloc needed "credible and ambitious" financing tools to preserve the single market. She said the Commission was working on an assessment of what the EU clean tech sector needed to compete with U.S. rivals. Yet Scholz's own Social Democrats published a paper on Thursday saying that new EU joint borrowing should be "constructively examined".
Belgium to extend life of two nuclear reactors by 10 years
  + stars: | 2023-01-09 | by ( )   time to read: +3 min
Companies Engie SA FollowBRUSSELS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Belgium has reached an agreement with French utility Engie to extend the life of two nuclear reactors by 10 years, the prime minister said on Monday, overturning a plan to exit nuclear power in 2025 as the war in Ukraine has changed energy strategy. "The extension of these two nuclear reactors is crucial to guarantee our energy security," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told a news conference after meeting cabinet members. Belgium had planned to exit nuclear power entirely in 2025, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced the government to rethink plans to rely more on natural gas. Belgium's six operating nuclear reactors have a combined capacity of about 5 gigawatt and generate about half of the country's electricity, World Nuclear Association data show. The cost of the future dismantling of the Belgian reactors will remain Engie's responsibility, De Croo added.
The commissioner's letter, dated Dec. 29, followed an online meeting of over 100 representatives from EU members, EU health agencies and the World Health Organisation to discuss how to deal with the outbreak in China. Italy has urged the rest of the European Union to follow its lead and test travellers from China, but most EU members have said they saw no need to do so. Kyriakides said some EU members had proposed measures such as the random testing of travellers. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says it does not currently recommend measures on travellers from China. It said the variants circulating in China were already in the European Union, EU citizens had relatively high vaccination levels and the potential imported infections were low compared to the number of daily infections in the EU, with health care systems currently coping.
EU gives guarded welcome to U.S. guidance on EV tax credits
  + stars: | 2022-12-29 | by ( )   time to read: +2 min
REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File PhotoBRUSSELS, Dec 29 (Reuters) - The European Commission gave a guarded welcome on Thursday to guidance by the United States meaning that EU companies could partially benefit from the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, but said further improvements were required. The Commission said the Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicle Credit would be available to EU companies without requiring changes to established or foreseen business models of EU producers. A commercial clean vehicle, the guidance says, "is made by a qualified manufacturer". However, for the New Clean Vehicle Credit for consumers, the vehicle must have final assembly in North America. The Commission said the scheme remained a concern, with provisions that discriminated against clean vehicles and inputs made in the European Union, and it violated international law.
Factbox: The European Parliament's cash-for-influence scandal
  + stars: | 2022-12-21 | by ( )   time to read: +4 min
BRUSSELS, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Belgian authorities have charged four people linked to the European Parliament over allegations World Cup host Qatar lavished them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making. RAIDS AND THE PROSECUTION CASEInvestigators searched 19 homes and the offices of the European Parliament in raids on Dec 9-12. Pier Antonio Panzeri - a former European Parliament member from Italy's centre-left and founder of non-profit pro-justice campaign group Fight Impunity. Belgium also submitted European arrest warrants for his wife and daughter in Italy. According to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Giorgi has confessed to taking bribes to influence European Parliament decisions and sought to exonerate his partner Kaili.
BRUSSELS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - As a corruption scandal rocks the European Parliament, lawmakers and campaign groups say a lack of asset declarations, little reporting on contacts with third countries and barely any sanctions created an environment where rule-breaking could go unpunished or undetected. Prosecutors suspect Greek member of the European Parliament (MEP) Eva Kaili and three others accepted bribes from recent soccer World Cup host Qatar in a bid to influence European Union policymaking. The case, widely dubbed "Qatargate" in the media, is one of the biggest scandals to hit the 27-nation bloc. They also urged the European Commission to put forward a proposal for an independent ethics body as soon as possible. ($1 = 0.9433 euros)Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Hugh LawsonOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Poland withdrew last-minute objections to a global minimum corporate tax, unblocking a whole package of linked agreements that includes the loan to Ukraine, invaded by Russia almost 10 months ago. "The next six months will demand even greater efforts from us," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the 27 EU leaders gathered in Brussels, asking them for more support from air defences to energy equipment. EU leaders also agreed a ninth package of sanctions against Russia for waging the war against Ukraine, diplomats said. The decision, which requires unanimity, came after EU Russia hawks Poland and Lithuania had warned that proposed exceptions for food security might in fact benefit Russian oligarchs in the fertilizer business. Poorer EU countries want a coordinated response and warned richer member states like Germany against supporting their industries without showing solidarity with the rest of the bloc.
"We've been too naïve ... for far too long," a justice ministry spokesperson said, referring to what he called clandestine operations by foreign powers in Belgium. The other three suspects arrested and charged last week were meanwhile questioned, as planned, on Wednesday by a three-judge panel. Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the secretary-general of a rule of law campaign group, will leave jail but wear an electronic ankle tag. The European Parliament on Tuesday voted to strip Kaili, a 44-year old Greek Socialist MEP, of her vice presidency role. Although no state was publicly named by prosecutors, a source with knowledge of the case said it was Qatar.
Prosecutors searched 16 houses and seized 600,000 euros ($631,800) in Brussels on Friday as part of an investigation into money laundering and corruption. The European Parliament said at the weekend it had suspended the powers and duties of one of its vice presidents, Greek socialist Eva Kaili, in light of the Belgian investigation. Belgian Socialist party member Marc Tarabella confirmed it was his home and that a computer and mobile phone had been taken. "If it were confirmed that someone took money to try to influence the opinion of the European Parliament, it will really be one of the most dramatic stories of corruption in recent years," he added. The European Parliament is due to vote this week on a proposal to extend visa-free travel to the EU for Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Ecuador.
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