Brussels — European Green Deal investments will remain a priority as part of the EU's efforts to jump-start its economy after the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday.
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The EC proposed a European Green Deal Investment Plan in January, before the lockdowns hit, to mobilize at least Eur1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) of sustainable investments over the next 10 years to help the EU become climate-neutral by 2050.
Achieving the 2050 goal would mean removing unabated fossil fuels from the EU's energy mix, and increasing demand for renewable electricity and low carbon gases, such as hydrogen.
The EC's proposed investment plan included Eur503 billion to come from the EU's 2021-2027 budget, which EU national governments have yet to agree.
The EU budget needed to be the re-imagined in light of the pandemic to "unlock massive public and private investment" to create a "more resilient, green and digital Europe," von der Leyen told the European Parliament.
That means "doubling down on our growth strategy by investing in the European Green Deal," she said. "First-mover advantage will count double and finding the right projects to invest in will be key."
Investing in large scale renovations, renewables, clean transport and infrastructure "will be even more important than before."
That would reduce EU economic dependencies by shortening and diversifying supply chains.
EU President Charles Michel, who leads EU leaders' debates in the European Council, also told the parliament he thought the European Green Deal was still a top priority strategy.
Von der Leyen and Michel are working on a road map and action plan on how to bring the EU "back to strong, sustainable and inclusive growth, based on a green and digital strategy", according to the European Council website.
They plan to discuss this with EU leaders at a video conference on April 23.
The EU's multi-annual budget sets the limits for EU spending and is based on contributions from national governments.
It is notoriously time-consuming to agree.
The EC made its initial proposal for the 2021 to 2027 budget in May 2018, calling for Eur1,135 billion in commitments, equal to 1.1% of the 27 EU member states' gross national income.