EU needs level playing field for innovative business models

Written by Paul Rübig on 8 December 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

The EU must ensure its climate policies retain innovative green industry leaders within Europe, writes Paul Rübig.

Europe needs a consistent, balanced and research-based approach towards this climate, energy and industry challenge. In order to tackle the demanding challenges ahead, we must offer our society and economy an opportunity to innovate and flourish. Therefore, we need a predictable regulatory framework fit for the challenges we face. As such, solid insights from research are crucial.

Parliament has already been, and still is collaborating intensively with the European Commission and member states in the area of energy, climate action and environment. It is our common goal to establish a level playing field and to improve funding opportunities, in particular through co-funding and equity for research and innovation, for example through Horizon 2020.

Parliament has initiated an MEP-scientist pairing scheme, which aims to help MEPs better understand the way scientists think and work in general, the language they use and how they think about politics and politicians.


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I personally have already been paired twice with researchers in plasmaphysics and nanobiosciences, but the scheme does also extend to social sciences.

When it comes to setting up the energy union, private and public research will play a most crucial role, dealing with pressing questions as regards the generation mix, storage, transfer and demand management of energy in an ever more dense network of suppliers and consumers.

It is my firm opinion that Europe urgently needs a structured dialogue about energy storage, from a technical as well as a market perspective.

The two most important initiatives when it comes to green transport are the CleanSky2 and Shift2Rail joint undertakings, striving to pave the way for a transport system beneficial for Europe's citizens, economy and environment.

We must bear in mind that Europe's population and economy is responsible for only a limited and decreasing fraction of the world economy's total emissions. Therefore, solely joint global-goals and efforts can have a lasting, positive effect. Europe's biggest opportunity is to showcase that it can effectively improve from the status quo by taking climate and energy actions that are both ambitious yet still economically achievable.

We should strive to do our utmost not to cast out our innovative and committed businesses to other continents. Rather, we should leverage the potential of our most efficient industries and provide a level playing field for new innovative business models and technologies. This would be convincing proof of the effectiveness of our policies, in particular for the most rapidly emerging economies.

While Europe's share in international trade with energy-intensive products still made up 36 per cent in 2013, this figure is expected to drop significantly until 2035. This is not only a clear indication for rapid growth forecasted for other parts of the world but also a clear sign of "investment-leakage".

The reindustrialisation of Europe constitutes a cardinal goal for European economies. Given that currently, our share in industrial production is declining, we must leverage all opportunities at hand. 

We have to create an attractive environment for the transition to an industry 4.0, further ease the funding for research in sustainable manufacturing techniques, facilitate the cooperation of our industry and research institutions and globally promote our green economy. 

We should strive to provide an incentive to further intensify R&D in energy efficiency for businesses ranging from SMEs to large multinationals, rather than curtailing their opportunities.

 

About the author

Paul Rübig (EPP, AT) is chair of Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) panel

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