The transition towards climate neutrality will have an uneven impact on Europe's regions and their industries. The industrial landscape may see profound changes as a result of this transition. Some regions and territories that are now economically well-off may lose out while some that are less well-off may gain. Finding suitable new industries and/or activities and supporting most affected regions and territories is therefore crucial in order to avoid growing regional disparities and to ensure that no one and no region is left behind. In this respect, a strong and effective EU Cohesion Policy will play an important role in supporting these regions in managing a just and fair transition. It should also be kept in mind that many European sectors, in particular the energy-intensive ones, need access to net-zero technologies in order to remain competitive and circular. ECON members have welcomed the NZIA, stressing that, as far as net-zero production is concerned, regions would benefit enormously from more investment certainty, better policy coordination and a reduced administrative burden.
On access to markets (chapter IV), LRAs carry out a high number of procurement procedures at the subnational level. The chapter on skills (chapter V) needs to be read from an LRA perspective and affects regional competences on education, vocational training and research directly. Local and regional authorities have a key role to play in promoting training and reskilling, particularly in building the capacity of public-sector workers. LRAs constitute a key level for securing acceptance of the EU's strategic objectives on clean-energy technologies and of industrial projects among EU citizens. Involving LRAs early on in the formulation and development of strategic projects may facilitate their roll-out. There is room to examine whether LRAs may form part of initiatives such as the Net-zero Europe Platform, clean tech industrial partnerships or Net-zero Industry Academies. Despite the relevance of LRAs for the NZIA, no references to the active involvement and participation of the sub-national level are made in the proposal.
The EP report on the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), adopted on 6 November 2023, takes on board several key concerns from the CoR opinion as follows:
The EP's streamlined definitions of net-zero technologies, of components and innovative net-zero technologies are in line with the CoR amendments which propose a wider definition and deletion of the reference to technology readiness level.
Scope of the NZIA
The EP supports an expanded scope that encompasses the entire supply chain of net-zero technologies. This is a key point of the CoR opinion.
Net-Zero Industry Valleys
In line with the CoR opinion, the EP draft report introduces the concept of Net-Zero Industry Valleys, aimed at fostering industrial symbiosis and encouraging Member States to make targeted investments in specific areas across Europe. It also takes up the CoR's suggestion regarding a specific focus on coal regions in transition.
Focus on carbon capture and storage (CCS)
The EP draft report includes the CoR amendment that highlights the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Skills and training of the workforce
The EP draft report accounts for the emphasis on the scarcity of skilled employees and a lack of understanding within local administration in certain regions of the Union. Exact wording of the CoR opinion has further been taken up regarding putting into place measures to attract, retain, upskill or reskill a workforce required for net-zero technologies.
Mention of the International Energy Agency
In line with the CoR amendment, the reference to the work of the International Energy Agency has been removed.
Ahead of the upcoming trilogue negotiations, an in-depth analysis of the EP, Council and CoR positions will be provided.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
welcomes the proposal for a Net-Zero Industry Act to support the implementation of the Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age, thereby reaffirming its strong commitment to achieving climate-neutrality by 2050;
underlines that LRAs are often directly affected by the measures proposed in the Net-Zero Industry Act. Due to the competences of LRAs, many of the rules regarding enabling conditions for net-zero technology manufacturing, access to markets and enhancing skills for quality job creation give LRAs a vital role in the implementation of the Net-Zero Industry Act. Therefore, LRAs have to be considered as an integral part of the future success of net-zero technologies in Europe. They have to play an active role in the implementation process, which should be clearly recognised in the relevant articles of the regulation;
stresses the need for a pragmatic approach that covers the whole supply and value chain when it comes to net-zero technologies. The producers of components and machinery for the production of final products of net-zero technologies are as decisive to achieving the objectives of the Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age as the producers of the final product. To minimise the risk of supply chain disruptions the Net-Zero Industry Act should prioritise planned industrial facilities and the transformation (especially decarbonisation), extension or repurposing of existing facilities along the whole supply and value chain. Additional burdens or obstacles for investments deriving from other pieces of legislation have to be avoided;
recalls that LRAs constitute a key level for securing acceptance of the EU's strategic objectives of net-zero technologies and of industrial projects among EU citizens, and stresses that involving LRAs early on in the formulation and development of strategic projects may facilitate their roll-out. Knowledge of opportunities and impacts in the territory mainly comes from LRAs. They are often key players in designing and implementing industrial policies and R&D policies and are prepared to support innovation in net-zero technology, for example by hosting regulatory sandboxes. Therefore, LRAs should be an integral part of the Net-Zero Europe Platform.