Werner Ponikwar

The Imperative of the Industrial Deal: Only a Globally Competitive Europe can Drive the Transition to a Sustainable Economy

Europe prides itself in being a role model in the green transformation and home to many technology leaders in clean technology. However, when it comes to industrializing innovation and bringing it to market, other regions like the US and China are gaining traction. If we want to promote sustainability, profit from the technologies developed here and show the world that green growth is possible, we urgently need regulatory reforms, a functioning ecosystem, and a just and fair Single Market – we need a European Industrial Deal.

Europe is at a critical junction in its economic development. Forecasts point to subdued growth, although Europe’s innovation system with its technology leaders and research centers is generally well positioned. At the same time, others are bringing these innovations to market. If we want to succeed in transitioning to a sustainable economy while maintaining our economic strength and reducing our dependence on vulnerable supply chains, we need a strong European industry that can drive this transition and is competitive on a global scale.

One key to this is the right policy framework and impetus. With the European Green Deal, the EU has successfully sparked the revival of clean tech industries. At the same time, the multitude of new regulations hitting European enterprises make it harder for these industries to grow. The Green Deal has been full of detailed implementation regulations – a new Industrial Deal should re-focus the EU on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation without regulatory and funding constraints that are well-meaning, but in the end prevent success. By simplifying regulations, for example by preventing overreporting or by ensuring regulatory coherence, we can unlock the potential of European industries and enable them to be more agile and responsive to market changes.

Werner Ponikwar, CEO of thyssenkrupp nucera
Werner Ponikwar, CEO at thyssenkrupp nucera

Smart regulation that enables growth is one key promoter for the industry’s success, a functioning ecosystem is another prerequisite. For the cleantech industry, that means, first, incentivizing demand by ambitiously transforming towards an affordable net-zero energy system – with an EU Energy Strategy and predictable low energy prices. As industries work towards sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, access to affordable green energy is not just an environmental imperative but also a competitive one. Second, if the industry is to transition, it needs the infrastructure to do this as soon as possible. This includes a working hydrogen transport grid. Third, we need to secure investments in the cleantech industry with smart state aid rules and by unlocking the potential of Europe’s private capital.

At the heart of Europe’s economic success is its Single Market. However, after decades of increasingly complicating the regulatory framework, the Single Market urgently needs recalibration. Europe’s industry is at the core of its economic recovery and green transformation. It is imperative to ensure the Single Market is up to the task of enabling this transformation. National implementation of European regulation and domestic red tape on top of reporting obligations make it ever harder to work across borders and deliver on our joint ambitions. Tackling this should be Europe’s primary ambition following the June elections. This is the moment to promote true cross-European value chains.

The imperative for a complementary strategy to the Green Deal has become apparent. That is why this week, over 50 CEOs and 15 trade associations came forward and proposed a European Industrial Deal. It aims to establish Europe as a hub of innovation while safeguarding its position as a stronghold of industrial production. The strong support for the proposal makes it very clear: The next European Commission’s term must be about setting a transformative agenda that will ensure that the European industry not only survives but thrives in the decades to come.

At thyssenkrupp nucera, we are proud to deliver to tomorrow’s green energy supply with green hydrogen at industrial scale today. As a European player with world-leading technologies for high-efficiency electrolysis plants, we enable change. Our customers get to minimize their carbon footprint and transform their operations into net zero, maintaining jobs and delivering on Europe’s climate ambitions. We see every day that the technologies and the business model are there – Europe can deliver on a Green Deal. But we need to unlock the industry’s potential. That is why we support the Industrial Deal. The time to act and deliver on a net-zero future is now.