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EU chief calls for more military independence amid new ‘era of regional rivalries’

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen addresses European lawmakers on the inauguration of the new President of the United States.

FRANCISCO SECO | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — There is a new worldwide order, the place competitors is fierce and a few nations “stop at nothing to gain influence,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned Wednesday.

Speaking at her annual “State of the European Union” parliamentary deal with, von der Leyen described the currrent setting of international relations as “a new era of hyper-competitiveness.”

“An era of regional rivalries and major powers refocusing their attention towards each other,” she mentioned, whereas including that “recent events in Afghanistan are not the cause of this change — but they are 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 complete course of and subsequent evacuation efforts have raised issues within the EU about its dependence on the United States in phrases of protection and safety.

Europe can — and clearly ought to — give you the chance and keen to do more by itself.

Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission 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 events unfold in Afghanistan was profoundly painful for all the families of fallen servicemen and servicewomen,” von der Leyen mentioned Wednesday.

“Europe can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own … What we need is the European Defense Union,” she mentioned.

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

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

China’s Climate Plan

During her hour-long speech, von der Leyen additionally requested China to be more 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 goals that President Xi has set for China are encouraging. But we call for that same leadership on setting out how China will get there. The world would be relieved if they showed they could peak emissions by mid-decade — and move away from coal at home and abroad,” von der Leyen informed 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 fuel emissions by no less than 55% by 2030.

This matter is changing into more and more more necessary as Europeans face larger vitality payments amid a pure fuel scarcity and structural points. This is elevating issues throughout the bloc as member states look forward to colder temperatures within the coming months, which may lead to even larger prices when the economic system continues to be simply resurfacing from the coronavirus pandemic.

The governments of Spain and Greece have already introduced measures to offset some of the latest spike in vitality costs. While Spain launched momentary tax cuts, Greece mentioned it will spend 150 million euros ($177 million) to chop vitality payments for shoppers over the following three months.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, claimed final week that vitality costs have been going up because of the EU’s local weather insurance policies, Politico reported.

Frans Timmermans, who leads the local weather coverage portfolio on the European Commission, mentioned Tuesday that “only about a fifth of the price increase can be attributed to CO2 prices rising.”

“The others are simply about shortages in the market,” he informed the European Parliament.

“Had we had the green deal five years earlier we would not be in this position because then we would have less dependency on fossil fuels and natural gas,” Timmermans mentioned, arguing that the fee’s local weather plan would keep away from such vitality worth will increase.

Increasing chip manufacturing

Among probably the most stunning 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 prior to now months, which has impacted the manufacturing of many merchandise, together with automobiles, TVs and plenty of different electrical home equipment. This is a priority for the EU provided that it’s presently closely depending on worldwide provide chains.

“While global demand has exploded, Europe’s share across the entire value chain, from design to manufacturing capacity has shrunk. We depend on state-of-the-art chips manufactured in Asia. So this is not just a matter of our competitiveness. This is also a matter of tech sovereignty,” von der Leyen mentioned.

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