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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Vice-President Šefčovič:Towards an Interregional Partnership on Batteries

Brussels, 8 October 2018

Speech by Vice-President Šefčovič, in charge of Energy Union, at the launch of the Interregional Parnership for Batteries, in Brussels.

 

Your Excellency,

Dear regional representatives,

Commission colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

 

On behalf of the European Commission, I would like to give you a very warm welcome to this first smart specialisation workshop on Batteries.

A year ago, I announced that we wanted to launch the “Airbus of Batteries”. To build a new business model centred on a competitive, innovative and sustainable value chain here in Europe.

The Airbus has now taken off and is gaining altitude, fast !

This is the only way to bridge the gap with our Asian competitors on the next generation of batteries.

Our success relies on our assets: our world-class education and innovation ecosystems, very strong industrial players covering the entire value chain, and robust partnerships in support of our industrial policy.

 

In October last year, we launched the European Battery Alliance. It offers a platform for pooling our efforts throughout the value chain and across the continent. It stemmed from a simple observation: given the scale and speed of investment needed, no actor can do this on its own.

Since then, the platform has seen impressive progress. Just to mention:

  • around 260 industrial actors are working together across the value chain. Diego will tell you about their collective commitment and announced investments,
  • key partnerships are being forged with the MS and the European Investment Bank,
  • new manufacturing projects are coming to life with pilot lines and upcoming construction of Gigafactories across Europe.
  • and last but not least, a Strategic Action Plan was adopted in May by the European Commission, to cover the needs of the entire value chain.

As we would say in French, we – Europeans - are now clearly “en ordre de bataille”.

But the Alliance will not deliver without the regions. We need you !

Regions are the “living labs”, the incubators, the “real-life engine” of our industrial policy – and this is also the reason why we are promoting smart specialisation strategies.

As part of our action plan on batteries we announced the formation of interregional partnerships, under smart specialisation platform for industrial modernisation.

Your presence today confirms that there is significant interest in establishing these partnerships.

 

At regional level, sustainable batteries are essential to:

  • the future of research and innovation,
  • the competitiveness of our automotive industry,
  • the cleanness of the air we breathe,
  • the fitness of our raw material policy,
  • the success of our circular economy, and
  • the effective decarbonisation of our energy system.

Nothing less !

We want to be competitive in batteries that are safe and highly efficient. But we also want batteries that are “green” or “sustainable”. That are produced thanks to ethical and sustainable sourcing, that have a low-carbon footprint, that are recyclable and fit for second use.

 

EIT KIC Innoenergy has estimated a European “battery” market of around EUR 250 billion per year from 2025 onwards. It is expected that more than 20 Giga-factories will have to be built in Europe, and their related ecosystem considerably strengthened.

Regions can capture a great deal of this demand, provided we work well together, based on each cluster's “specialised strengths”.

So our expectation today is that, public authorities, research and industry will be able to forge strong interregional partnerships.

Your partnerships will help convert R&D into the most successful solutions, solutions that will serve the surging demand of e-mobility, with a positive spill-over effect on other sectors such as energy storage.

To that end batteries will also need to be bi-directional: with vehicle-to-grid and grid (ie house)-to-vehicle plug in.

Batteries can be a major source of jobs, economic growth and investment brought - or brought back - to your regions. Innoenergy – again – has forecasted a possible creation of 4-5 million jobs as a result of the EU taking the lead in this sector.

Of course this is a bottom-up approach. The ownership is yours to have.

The Commission will act as a facilitator, or system integrator – as we have done for member States and our industrial partners, under the European Battery Alliance.

This means we do not plan to sit around and watch.

We will start by offering tailor-made support, in the range of EUR 1 million, for pilot technical assistance on your business plans and the removal of barriers to investment.

 

We also stand ready to discuss with you the allocation and reprogramming of funds under regional policy, EUR 44 billion in total for 2014-2020 (including 12.4 for clean urban transport alone). I would like to thank the active support given by my colleague and friend Corina Crețu on this front. She will join you later.

I understand at least two partnerships are being presented today:

-     One on advanced material for which Slovenia is taking the lead. Thank you, your Excellency, dear Janez, for being with us to steer this.

-     Another partnership will be presented on de and re-manufacturing of batteries components

I very much welcome these initiatives.

We need to think in terms of complementarity across the value chain. I would therefore encourage you to consider the following questions:

  1. What should we prioritise? where do our competitive advantage lie? What other partnerships might we need?
  2. What can my region bring to this dynamic process?
  3. How can we make the best use of EU (and national) support?

Next Monday, on 15 October, it will be one year since the launch of the European Battery Alliance. On this occasion, I will discuss the progress made – and the way ahead - with the Alliance Ministers and CEOs.

I am convinced that your interregional partnerships will be one key topic of our discussions.

A lot is at stake. So, I wish you a very productive session. And I do look forward to hearing about its positive outcome.

SPEECH/18/6066

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