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Economic prosperity and decarbonisation must go hand in hand, says Czech Industry Minister

Czechia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela underlined that maintaining economic security and a realistic approach to climate goals will be crucial in the work of the next European Commission.

“These serious problems and threats [the Russian aggression of Ukraine, disruption of maritime trade routes as a result of war tensions in the Middle East and the COVID-19 pandemic] which have accumulated in recent years, make it even more difficult to comply with very ambitious goals in terms of decarbonising the European economy,” the Minister said. “We do not want to dispute our climate goals in any way, nevertheless, we must set a reasonable balance, taking into account compliance with those goals and our own prosperity. Moreover, we have to be able to convince the European public in all Member States about the usefulness of these goals and assure them that the goals of green and digital transformation can be complied with without affecting their standard of living.”

According to Minister Síkela the current status implicate key priorities, which should be addressed by the future European Commission.

“We need to be strong in managing and developing the technologies that are essential to cope with ongoing processes, which influence and shape the European economy in a substantial way, such as decarbonisation, digitisation, or advent of the artificial intelligence,” continued Minister Síkela, adding that in terms of climate goals, Europe must make equally reasonable demands both on its foreign trading partners and its own industry to prevent an unfair competition.

The first positive step in this direction, according to him, is the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), the European Union’s measure imposing fees on imported goods from countries with lower environmental standards.

“We must continue taking similar steps that help European business cope with current challenges and the decarbonisation process,” he continued. “[…] We believe that the need for technological neutrality means an increase of support for all low-carbon technologies, including nuclear. Support for nuclear energy must be part of the Green Deal.”

According to the Minister, it will also be necessary to continue galvanising the economic security and making a cautious selection of trading partners. “We must also minimise dependencies in strategic sectors, whether in terms of raw materials such as gas, oil, nuclear fuel and lithium, or sophisticated technologies such as chips,” he explained.

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