The EU’s planned massive recovery fund to counter the economic downturn triggered by Covid-19 shouldn’t be channeled into “carrying on as we did before the pandemic” and instead foster innovation and climate protection, Angela Merkel said after a video summit with EU leaders.
“Substantial investments will be necessary and I have also made it clear that it will not only be a matter of just continuing as we did before the pandemic, but that it will be essentially a matter of investing into the future,” Merkel said at a briefing after the summit.
“That means that it is directly related to what has to be done about climate protection, what has to be done with innovative mobility concepts and what has to do with digitalisation.”
EU leaders Thursday night had tasked the European Commission with creating a Covid-19 recovery fund to kick-start the economy once lockdown measures are eased that is slated to include at least €340bn ($367bn) in low interest lending to member states and €200bn in loans to small- and mid-sized companies.
The Chancellor also acknowledged that Germany will need to substantially raise its contribution to the EU’s next seven-year budget as a consequence of post-Covid-19 stimulus efforts.
While Merkel stressed the importance of climate action as part of EU-wide recovery efforts, she failed to mention climate action when she addressed the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, on Germany’s own efforts.
While renewable energy groups in Europe’s largest economy push for a faster expansion of green energy as part of the response to the virus-triggered crisis, parts of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in synch with Eastern European leaders think renewable energy issues should be on the back burner while societies fight Covid-19.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, also a CDU member, however in an interview to Spanish news agency Efe said the EU needs to build a resilient, green and digital Europe now.
“At the heart of this will be our growth strategy, the European Green Deal, and the twin transition and opportunity of digitalisation and decarbonisation.”
Merkel and Von der Leyen’s statements on a climate-friendly recovery of the economy from Covid-19 came in stark contrast to pledges by US President Donald Trump to bail out domestic oil companies hit by the collapse of oil prices, while not mentioning renewable energies or climate protection as part of US efforts to help the economy hit by the virus.
“We will never let the great U.S. Oil & Gas Industry down,” Trump had said on Twitter earlier this week.
“I have instructed the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of the Treasury to formulate a plan which will make funds available so that these very important companies and jobs will be secured long into the future!”