1 of 3 | European Commission President signaled Wednesday that a spat with the United States over their respective state investment plans for a clean energy future is no more. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
March 15 (UPI) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signaled Wednesday that the European Union and the United States have set aside their differences over their competing economic visions for a future powered by clean energy.
Hailing the "striking symmetry" between the Inflation Reduction Act and the European Green Deal, von der Leyen told MEPs that both were simultaneously a climate strategy and a strategy for investment and growth and both included funding for a "just transition" and regulatory standards.
"In other words, the two biggest and most advanced economies in the world are now moving in the same direction. Therefore, I welcome the IRA for its massive investment in clean tech," she said.
She qualified her praise by saying that the one area in which the U.S. system fell far short of what the EU was doing was carbon pricing.
Von der Leyen, who met with President Biden Friday, said solutions had been found on the key sticking points of U.S. tax breaks for European carmakers and treating raw materials for batteries extracted or processed in the EU as if they came from the United States.
"This will secure strong supply chains for batteries in Europe and ensure access to the U.S. market. And we started a transparency dialogue on incentives for the clean-tech industry, she said.
The Green Deal Industrial Plan, the EU's hastily rolled out plan to boost green industries' competitiveness by easing state aid rules, was Brussels' response to last year's $738 billion IRA, of which $391 billion was for clean energy subsidies.
The EU argued the subsidies could disadvantage the 27-country bloc as a global center for green investment and see companies relocate to the United States.
However, von der Leyen cautioned that negotiations could only do so much and that the "big bulk of work still lies with us in Europe."
"We Europeans need to get better at nurturing our own clean-tech industry. We need to speed up and simplify procedures. And we need to grant better access to public and private finance," she said.
She also declared that "the race is on" as global investment in clean transition surpassed $1 trillion in 2022, up 30% from the year before and the global market for net-zero technologies was "set to triple" by 2030.
"We must get our act together if we want to stay front-runners. We must nurture our own clean-tech industrial base, both to create new jobs here in Europe and to ensure access to the clean solutions we so urgently need. And that is what the Green Deal Industrial Plan is all about," said von der Leyen.
In Friday's meeting, Biden said the United States and the EU remained committed to addressing the climate crisis and that the effort could lead to good-paying jobs and innovation that would drive down costs for clean-energy technologies worldwide.
"We're driving new investments to create clean-energy industries and jobs, and make sure we have supply chains available to both ... our continents," Biden said, adding that the idea "underpins" both the IRA and the European Green Deal.
In January, Von der Leyen challenged the EU to mount a response to the IRA saying it needed a comprehensive net-zero subsidy package to counter massive green-energy spending in Washington, which she said gave the United States an unfair competitive edge on an uneven global playing field.