"Regulating the energy consumption of equipment and products, as well as [focusing] on emissions trading, will not in itself yield the expected results, if these are not accompanied by positive measures encouraging investment in energy efficiency," says a press statement released on 25 June by Orgalime, the European Engineering Industries Association.
The Orgalime statement is part of the work of 'Electra', a Commission-backed initiative designed to foster innovation in the electronics and electrical engineering industries in the context of EU efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Electra presented the results of a year of "intense" work yesterday during a conference in Brussels. "Fiscal and financial policies should be designed to attract investment and complemented by facilitating private investment, including through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)," the group concluded.
EU Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen, who attended the Electra event, declared the "birth of a new chapter" in the EU's industrial policy. It is necessary to "overcome old thinking" with respect to the perceived contradiction between modern technologies and environmental protection, Verheugen said.
The Commission will next week present new action plans on a Sustainable Industrial Policy and on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). The SCP action plan will include a proposal to extend the EU's Eco-design Requirements for Energy-using Products Directive to "all energy-related products," Verheugen said.
But the industry is concerned these measures may not go far enough, and that elements of the EU's current climate change agenda, notably the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), are holding back the investments needed to green industrial production.
The Commission on 23 January proposed a revised EU ETS for the period beyond 2013. But Brussels does not want to specify which sectors could receive special exemptions to EU CO2 emissions restrictions until after the finalisation of international climate change negotiations in December 2009.
"The [EU ETS] and the uncertainty on how it will impact sectors subject to it and how the EU intends to ensure that its major trading parties adopt similar policies are creating a climate of uncertainty which is restricting investment in the EU," the Orgalime statement said.
This position is backed by several EU member states, including Gemany and France. This sets the stage for a potential clash, as neither the Commission nor the Parliament want to specify any exemptions before 2010 (EurActiv 18/06/08).