MEP Vasile Blaga: An EU-US trade war would come at the worst possible time, but “the EU must remain attractive to green energy investment”
MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomed on Tuesday the European Commission’s plan to counter US anti-inflation policies, stressing that a trade war between the EU and the US would come at the worst possible time.
”It is probably hard enough for the European Union to give up strict single market policies, but the new economic logic into which Russia’s attack on Ukraine has thrown us all requires radical measures. And it is good that, albeit belatedly, the European Union is considering measures to keep innovation and production of renewable energy products in Europe. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in the US last year, with a $367 billion package of subsidies to boost manufacturing in the US, risks relocating much of the EU’s production or new investment in green energy. A trade war between the US and the EU would come at the worst possible time, given Russia’s aggression against Ukraine which should unite us all”, said Vasile Blaga.
The European Union is preparing a plan to relax state aid to support investment in green sectors. The aid also includes making it easier for companies to access tax credits.
The draft also includes an extension of the ”exemption” scheme, which allows differentiated state aid to certain sectors without prior approval from the Commission, making it easier for Member States to subsidise green hydrogen or biofuel production capacity.
“Everything is still in a planning stage, things are still under discussion. The European Union must also come up with a solution to prevent possible imbalances in the single market caused by the different financial possibilities of member states. The EU must also consider a financing component in the new plan”, said Vasile Blaga.
Op-ed | Solidarity, cohesion and democracy – Europe’s ambition starts at the local level
Op-ed co-signed by Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, and Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and president of the COTER Commission in the European Committee of the Regions
Celebrations are a time to take stock of what has been achieved, but also to reflect on what still needs to be done and to start drawing plans for the future.
On Europe Day, this May 9th, we celebrate the progress made since the famous declaration of Robert Schuman 73 years ago, when he called for solidarity and cooperation among countries as the condition for long-lasting peace in Europe. His words remain true and resonate most strongly today as we are facing yet another deadly war in Europe.
Solidarity and cooperation across all our territories and levels of government remain fundamental: European institutions, national governments, local and regional authorities need to work together and engage all citizens, remaining true to our fundamental democratic values.
Solidarity with Ukraine
It has been over a year that Russia launched its war machine on Ukrainian soil, bringing deaths and destructions. From day one, solidarity prevailed not only from European heads of state and governments but also from locally elected representatives. In the spirit of cooperation between cities and regions, the European Committee ensured that bridges were maintained and built with our Ukrainian friends, providing help, and welcoming millions of displaced people into our communities. We have used the occasion of the International Summit of Cities and Regions in Kyiv to reiterate our solidarity and support for the Ukrainian local and regional authorities and people.
At the same time, true to the words of Robert Schuman, we know that Ukraine needs to be rebuilt, with concrete achievements and through de facto solidarity. This is why we launched the European Alliance of Regions and Cities for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, bringing together both European and Ukrainian local and regional authorities. At the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London later this month we will call for regional and local dimension to be part of the larger reconstruction platform.
Cohesion in our territories
The impact of the war is reverberating through our regions and cities. Rising energy prices and high inflation are adding to the long list of ongoing challenges for Europeans: the climate crisis, inequality and the socio-economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic being just a few of them.
For decades, the European Union has invested to ensure social, economic and territorial solidarity through cohesion policy. This policy has yielded concrete results in communities across all corners of Europe, from supporting green infrastructure and renewable energy projects, stimulating innovation and digital connectivity, and providing training and education programmes for citizens.
While the EU came up with quick crises responses and new funding schemes, the future of cohesion policy needs to be at the centre of attention of EU leaders and institutions when we discuss the future budget of the EU. We must ensure that cohesion policy remains the main investment policy, contributing not only to counter the effects of immediate crises and protect Europeans, but also to continue achieving the green and digital transitions.
Democracy at all levels
The way Europe will manage to strengthen cohesion will be crucial also to protect the foundation of the EU: We should never take for granted that democracy is the engine behind our political action, through representation and participation.
To strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the European project mayors, regional governors and other local councillors need to be more involved in EU decision making.
With the next European elections just a year away we must ensure a permanent democratic dialogue at all levels: in our cities, in our regions, in our national assemblies and in the EU institutions.
We call on all local and regional authorities across Europe to host debates and dialogues with citizens and representatives from all levels to discuss the challenges we face and the solutions we must pursue.
If it is about climate change, solidarity with Ukraine or the state of our democracies: We must make sure citizens stay at the heart of our common actions. Engaging with citizens, providing solutions and delivering on the promise of a stronger and fairer Europe is what we as Committee of the Regions stand for.
Global Shapers Bucharest Hub hosts a successful “Shaping Conversation” event on topic Accelerating ESG Transformation for Businesses and Society, under the patronage of the Swiss Embassy in Romania
Global Shapers Bucharest Hub, an initiative of World Economic Forum, hosted an insightful shaping conversation event, under the patronage of the Embassy of Switzerland in Romania, titled “Accelerating ESG Transformation for Businesses and Society.”
The event, held on March 28th, 2023, in collaboration with the Swiss Sponsors’ Fund (SSF), the Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Romania (CCE-R), and One United Properties, was aimed at discussing the current state of ESG awareness and adoption, and the challenges and opportunities businesses face when integrating ESG into their strategies and operations.
His Excellency Mr. Arthur MATTLI, The Swiss Ambassador in Romania, opened the event with a welcome speech where he emphasized on the importance of sustainability reporting to secure a level playing field for businesses which shall ensure the transition to a sustainable economic system.
The panel was moderated by Moderator: Roxana Cojocaru, Chief Strategy Officer, Social Innovation Solutions and included notable members such as Alexandra Bocșe, State Secretary for Climate and Sustainability, Presidential Administration; Adrian Codirlașu, Vice President, CFA România; Zuzanna Kurek, Founder, Cornerstone Communications & ESG Expert; Csibi Magor, Partner and Head of Leadership Practice, TREND Consulting; and Mihai Toader-Pasti, Founder, towards 0 & IntreVecini, who shared their insights and experiences on the topic.
During the discussion, Alexandra Bocse highlighted the need for broad participation in implementing climate policies, stating that businesses must collect and analyze data through digitization to measure and evaluate their progress towards sustainability. Adrian Codirlasu stressed the importance of transparency in companies’ ESG practices and the risks of greenwashing. Zuzana Kurek emphasized that sustainability is not a cost but an investment in customer and shareholder retention and the relationship with the government. Csibi Magor highlighted that Generation Z is leading the way in demanding meaningful work with purpose and real sustainability, while Mihai Toader-Pasti outlined the importance of meeting the present needs without compromising the resources of future generations.
The panelists collectively agreed that the trend of increasing interest in ESG policies is evident across various sectors, including real estate, IT, and the financial industry. They also recognized the need for education on sustainability and ESG at the pre-university and university levels.
In conclusion, the event shed light on the importance of ESG policies in the business sector and society, emphasizing the need for a collective effort to achieve a sustainable future for everyone. It was a powerful conversation with thought-provoking insights from renowned experts in the field.
About Global Shapers Bucharest Hub
Global Shapers is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. The network currently comprises 377 hubs in 157 countries and has been present in Bucharest since 2013. The hub consists of 25 young professionals with diverse expertise, ranging from business and public policy to sport, NGOs, education, and media, working together to create impact.
Among the projects in which Global Shapers Bucharest Hub is a partner or co-organiser, alongside other organizations, are the Social Impact Award, Innovations for Tomorrow, Future Makers Competition, Shaping Conversations, Football. Girls. Flowers. Tablets.
130 years of social democracy in Romania. Marcel Ciolacu: PSD brought the country into the family of nations that base their existence on democracy, paving the way for NATO and EU membership
The Social Democratic Party has succeeded in bringing Romania into the family of nations that base their existence on democracy and respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens by opening the way to NATO and EU membership, PSD President Marcel Ciolacu pointed out.
He delivered a speech at the event marking 130 years of social democracy in Romania.
”I am proud that the PSD embodies progress and modernity. That even today the PSD is dedicated to defending democracy and the rights of the vulnerable, but also a strong supporter of employed women and men. Moreover, in today’s PSD we place people first in everything we do: in our fight for social justice, economic equality and respect for our history and values”, said the PSD leader.
He emphasised that “our history is our anchor and our values are our compass”.
”The Social Democratic Party was founded with a vision to help the hard working people whose work is the foundation of this country’s development and yet who are often forgotten. Our commitment was and is to fight for every Romanian to have the opportunity to prosper and live with dignity. Here in Romania, or anywhere in Europe. The road taken after 1989 was not an easy one. But it was the sure path to democracy. And the sure path to the free world! In fact, every step Romania took on the road to freedom and democracy was taken by the Social Democratic Party. The Social Democratic Party opened the way for Romania to join NATO and the European Union. The Social Democratic Party succeeded in bringing Romania into the family of nations that base their existence on democracy and respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens”, recalled Marcel Ciolacu.
He underlined that PSD has never shied away from the responsibility of governance, ”no matter how difficult times have been”.
”Romania must continue to grow economically in order to provide welfare to all its citizens. And we at the PSD have never avoided this responsibility. No matter how hard times have been. We assumed government after some – who called themselves “saviours” – ran away, leaving the country buried in huge debts. We assumed government in the midst of a health, economic, energy and social crisis. We committed ourselves to everything because this was the only way we could really help the Romanians in those difficult times! Since we joined the Coalition, we have shown that we can govern, that we fight for what we believe in and that we can achieve results. We increased the minimum wage, we regulated the energy market, thrown into chaos by a totally incompetent government, and we supported Romanian companies”, added the PSD President.
Ciolacu also said that the Social Democratic Party has ”left behind the old ways of conducting politics and we have become a modern, European party focused on supporting and growing the Romanian economy. Not only have we changed ourselves here at home, but we have taken an important place at the table of the social democratic parties in Europe”.
He also stressed the support Romania has given in the context of the Russian war in Ukraine.
”Moreover, from the very first moment, we have been fully involved in helping our neighbours, who are under attack by an abusive and tyrannical regime. We opened our ports and railways to supply Ukrainian wheat to the world. And our entire nation opened its homes and hearts to millions of refugees fleeing unimaginable violence and terror. We helped our brothers and sisters in the Republic of Moldova, including with energy and gas supplies. And the list goes on”, added the PSD leader.
In the light of the fact that “we are at the centre of a new strategic paradigm”, Romania “is and must be seen as the gateway to a new world”, thinks Ciolacu.
We are contributing to the reconstruction of Ukraine, we are promoters of the Three Seas initiative, we are partners in building a US-led Black Sea initiative, we continue to offer support to the Republic of Moldova, we are developing a sustainable way to bring energy to Europe and we are the frontline guardian of democracy. We will always stand by our friends and allies. And we are working together to build strong ties across the Baltic, Adriatic, Caspian and Black Seas. Beyond that, I believe we must have a strong response against extremism. We must reject extremism with all our strength, embrace democratic change and resolve our differences peacefully. The governing coalition has proven time and time again that, in order to make progress, differences can be reconciled and voices can be heard. Dear friends, we have fought too hard and come too far to allow the demise of communism to be replaced by the rise of Putinism. We must reject defeatism and remember what history has taught us. We will never go back there!” the PSD president added.
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