EU State of the Union: European leaders' push to shake off US and China dependence

 smh.com.au  09/17/2020 06:18:20 

Von der Leyen acknowledged the proposal would divide the Parliament and member states, which must approve the legally binding target but which disagree on how ambitious it should be.

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"I recognise that this increase from 40 to 55 is too much for some, and not enough for others," she said.

The European Commission will publish an analysis on Thursday of the steps needed to deliver the goal. This will include huge investments in transport, heavy and energy - where businesses will also face higher carbon costs under EU plans to revamp its carbon market.

The former German cabinet minister also called for greater investment in technology for Europe to compete more keenly with China and the United States. She said the EU would invest 20 per cent of its 750 billion ($1.2 trillion) fund for kick-starting the economy after the pandemic in digital projects.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the EU's dependence on Chinese components in the production of drugs, and concern is mounting that it is lagging the United States in the design and manufacture of batteries and in digital cloud storage.

A Citroen Ami compact electric car sits for hire via the Free2Move scheme in Paris, France. The EU chief wants Europe to become the world's first climate-neutral continent by mid-century.

A Citroen Ami compact electric car sits for hire via the Free2Move scheme in Paris, France. The EU chief wants Europe to become the world's first climate-neutral continent by mid-century.Credit:Bloomberg

The draft conclusions for a summit on September 24-25, the member states' leaders say they want European industry to be more competitive globally and to increase its autonomy and resilience. The conclusions, which could still be subject to change, show leaders would name the European Battery Alliance, the Internet of Things and Clean Hydrogen Alliance as projects for the EU to focus on.

They will also call for the development of new industrial alliances, including on raw materials, micro-processors, telecommunication networks, low-carbon industries, and Industrial Clouds and Platforms.

The leaders will also declare they want "a significant part" of a fund that will be available to EU countries under the bloc's budget and recovery package over the next seven years to be invested in supercomputers and quantum computing, blockchain, human-centred artificial intelligence, microprocessors, 5G mobile networks or protection against cyber threats and secure communications.

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On the question of asylum seekers, the Commission President said immigration policy must recognise "that each human being has a solemn dignity".

Since 2015, when more than a million people reached Europe by sea and thousands died trying, migration policy has been a source of quarrel within the bloc.

The numbers of those arriving have fallen sharply since then, but EU members are still divided over how to share hosting responsibility, and far-right parties have gained votes across the bloc calling for a harder line.

"Migration has always been a fact for Europe  and it will always be," von der Leyen said. "This is normality. We should be and we have to be able to manage that."

Turning to the troubled talks with London on the future relationship between the world's fifth-largest economy and biggest trading bloc, von der Leyen said every passing day reduces chances for sealing a new trade deal.

She stressed that the EU and Britain negotiated and ratified their Brexit divorce deal and warned London the agreement "cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or dis-applied".

Brexit talks were plunged into a new crisis this month after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put forward a new Internal Market Bill that would undercut Britain's Withdrawal Agreement.

Reuters

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