Invest more in EU competitiveness

07.02.2024 6:45

Invest more in EU competitiveness

Female engineer standing on top of a wind turbine.

A deal reached on Wednesday morning on the EU’s new €1.5 billion competitiveness tool, the Strategic Technologies for European Platform (STEP), is welcome, but the platform will need much more investment to ensure it has a greater impact in the future, leading EPP Group MEPs Christian Ehler and José Manuel Fernandes have warned.

STEP aims to provide additional EU funding for critical technology projects across many sectors, including renewable, digital and pharmaceutical industries.

"With STEP, Europe will be able to invest more strategically in technologies needed for the green and digital transition. STEP offers investors and companies the opportunity to complement Europe´s industrial policy with dedicated financing, in particular for projects and technologies needed for the green transition as concluded yesterday under the Net-Zero industry Act a key priority for the Parliament. Although the European Parliament has supported a financially much stronger and more targeted regulation, we have secured a good balance between new investment priorities and the protection of cohesion objectives and funds. We very much regret the budget cuts by Member States to our EU research programme Horizon Europe. This will harm the EU's global technological leadership of the EU,” said Christian Ehler MEP, the Parliament’s lead negotiator for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee.

High-quality projects that meet STEP objectives will be awarded a special 'Sovereignty Seal', a form of an EU quality mark, to boost their visibility and attractiveness for investment.

"The EU urgently needs to strengthen its competitiveness and strategic autonomy. We need to invest in innovative technologies using existing programmes, financial instruments and funds. That is why we are promoting synergies, simplification and the reduction of bureaucracy. The Sovereignty Seal will give visibility to quality projects and facilitate their access to better financing opportunities. We have secured a 100% co-financing rate for cohesion policy funds. Now we call on the national authorities managing Cohesion Policy to select their quality projects that add value to the EU's strategic autonomy,” said José Manuel Fernandes MEP, the EPP Group Spokesman on Budgets and a lead negotiator on STEP.

A final plenary vote in the European Parliament is expected to take place later this month.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 178 Members from all EU Member States

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