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EU chief requires extra army independence amid new ‘period of regional rivalries’

European Fee President Ursula Von Der Leyen addresses European lawmakers on the inauguration of the brand new President of the US.

FRANCISCO SECO | AFP | Getty Pictures

LONDON — There’s a new worldwide order, the place competitors is fierce and a few nations “cease at nothing to realize affect,” European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned Wednesday.

Talking at her annual “State of the European Union” parliamentary tackle, von der Leyen described the currrent surroundings of overseas relations as “a brand new period of hyper-competitiveness.”

“An period of regional rivalries and main powers refocusing their consideration in the direction of one another,” she mentioned, whereas including that “current occasions in Afghanistan usually are not the reason for this transformation — however they’re a symptom of it.”

The withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan fueled a a lot faster-than-expected takeover of the nation by the Taliban. The entire course of and subsequent evacuation efforts have raised concerns in the EU about its dependence on the US when it comes to protection and safety.

Europe can — and clearly ought to — find a way and prepared to do extra by itself.

Ursula von der Leyen

European Fee President

As such, some EU leaders have resurfaced the idea of a strategic autonomy — the concept the bloc must develop its personal protection capabilities — and a subject that von der Leyen is eager to pursue.

“Witnessing occasions unfold in Afghanistan was profoundly painful for all of the households of fallen servicemen and servicewomen,” von der Leyen mentioned Wednesday.

“Europe can — and clearly ought to — find a way and prepared to do extra by itself … What we’d like is the European Protection Union,” she mentioned.

The subject is prone to be in focus within the first half of 2022, when France, a eager supporter of the thought, is answerable for main the discussions on the EU-level.

The EU’s economics chief, Paolo Gentiloni, advised CNBC earlier this month that the bloc ought to step up its function on the geopolitical stage because the U.S. and different Western allies take a step again.

China’s Local weather Plan

Throughout her hour-long speech, von der Leyen additionally requested China to be extra concrete about its carbon neutrality plans.

The nation has pledged to be carbon impartial by 2060, however for von der Leyen this isn’t sufficient.

“The objectives that President Xi has set for China are encouraging. However we name for that very same management on setting out how China will get there. The world can be relieved in the event that they confirmed they may peak emissions by mid-decade — and transfer away from coal at residence and overseas,” von der Leyen advised lawmakers.

She mentioned that every one main economies, together with the U.S. and Japan, ought to current detailed plans towards carbon neutrality by the upcoming COP26 convention in Glasgow in November.

The EU has been main this house, presenting in July a concrete set of measures to chop greenhouse gasoline emissions by no less than 55% by 2030.

This subject is turning into more and more extra necessary as Europeans face increased power payments amid a pure gasoline scarcity and structural points. That is elevating considerations throughout the bloc as member states stay up for colder temperatures within the coming months, which might end in even increased prices when the financial system continues to be simply resurfacing from the coronavirus pandemic.

The governments of Spain and Greece have already introduced measures to offset a few of the current spike in power costs. Whereas Spain launched short-term tax cuts, Greece mentioned it could spend 150 million euros ($177 million) to chop power payments for customers over the following three months.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, claimed final week that power costs had been going up as a result of EU’s local weather insurance policies, Politico reported.

Frans Timmermans, who leads the local weather coverage portfolio on the European Fee, mentioned Tuesday that “solely a few fifth of the worth enhance could be attributed to CO2 costs rising.”

“The others are merely about shortages available in the market,” he advised the European Parliament.

“Had we had the inexperienced deal 5 years earlier we’d not be on this place as a result of then we’d have much less dependency on fossil fuels and pure gasoline,” Timmermans mentioned, arguing that the fee’s local weather plan would keep away from such power worth will increase.

Growing chip manufacturing

Among the many most shocking bulletins on Wednesday was von der Leyen’s intention to have a “European Chips Act” — a plan to spice up manufacturing of semiconductors, however to additionally enhance analysis, design and testing capacities.

Demand for chips has outgrown provide up to now months, which has impacted the manufacturing of many merchandise, together with vehicles, TVs and lots of different electrical home equipment. This can be a concern for the EU provided that it’s presently closely depending on worldwide provide chains.

“Whereas international demand has exploded, Europe’s share throughout your complete worth chain, from design to manufacturing capability has shrunk. We rely on state-of-the-art chips manufactured in Asia. So this isn’t only a matter of our competitiveness. That is additionally a matter of tech sovereignty,” von der Leyen mentioned.


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