On May 20th, a European Media agency leaked details of the stimulus package that would help the EU economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

EuActive said the leak came from a ‘trusted source’, and one week later, in a speech given before the European Parliament, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the EU’s 750 billion euro recovery plan will be focused towards ‘green and digital transitions’.

The deal has gone down well with investors. 109 of them had previously sent a letter to EU decision markers asking for an emphasis on green recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edie.net reported that investors wanted ‘…to ensure public money is helping support a cleaner, more resilient future’.  

What Does the EU’s Green Recovery Include?

  • 91 billion euros to increase home energy efficiency
  • 25 billion euros for renewable energy projects like wind, solar and hydrogen power.
  • 20 billion euros for cleaner cars
  • 2 million additional charging points in 2-years
  • 60 billion euros towards carbon-neutral trains
  • The production of 1 million tonnes of clean hydrogen
  • 1 million ‘green jobs’ created along with help for those in non-green industries to retrain and re-skill.

European economies badly hit by the Coronavirus pandemic are eager to see what can be done to help them recover from the damage caused by extensive lockdowns, border closures and travel bans.

Formal negotiations will start on June 11th, but the deal won’t go ahead without the backing of the 27 EU member states. The BBC has reported that Germany and France have both backed plans for the money to be raised on the capital markets.  The emphasis on re-training people from traditional industries with high levels of pollution is to appease those member states – like Romania, for example – where much of the economy is still based on fossil fuel use.

Money could be raised to help pay for the mix of grants and loans through several taxes including digital tax, carbon tax, and a non-recyclable tax.

Whilst the deal does have its critics, overall, it’s been well received.  The devastation of COVID-19 across Europe, in particular, highlights how global problems can create serious problems in EU economies.  The Guardian reports that in her speech, Ursula von der Leyen said “sooner or later we will find a vaccine for the coronavirus. But there is no vaccine for climate change. Therefore [we] need a recovery plan designed for the future.”

But with the US and China – the world’s two biggest polluters – ducking out of long-term environmental commitments, it’s difficult to say how effective the EU’s green policy will be in the wider scheme of things, but it’s a good start and it’s good to see a political institution recognize the value of a central green policy and not just as a short-term recovery plan but for the good of everyone for decades to come.

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