8 Januar 2021

German Council Presidency launches joint European hydrogen project

Minister Altmaier: “Together, we will advance forward-looking technologies and safeguard jobs”

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Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier with Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-president of the European Commission and Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market. © BMWi/Andreas Mertens

As part of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, Minister Peter Altmaier will today host a high-level online event on Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs).

The event marks the launch of the IPCEI on Hydrogen. Following many months of preparation, representatives of 22 EU Member States – including Minister Altmaier – and Norway will be signing a manifesto setting out their willingness to support the development of a European value chain for green hydrogen in particular and to invest the necessary billions of euros in this new key enabling technology.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said: “Hydrogen is a strategically important forward-looking technology on the path to attaining the EU’s climate targets and is a central tool for the reduction of carbon emissions in the industrial and transport sectors. We want our joint European projects and joint investments in hydrogen technologies to make Europe number 1 in the world, thereby improving our competitiveness and safeguarding long-term jobs.”

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-president of the European Commission, said: “The development of clean hydrogen technologies and the necesary infrastructure will bring us a step closer to the goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. No Member State and no company can do this on their own – considerable public and private investment will be required, as will cross-border collaboration. I welcome the fact that 23 European countries wish to work together on an ambitious IPCEI. The Member States are in the driving seat and can rely on the Commission to do its utmost to support the projects and to assess them as soon as they have been notified.”

Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, added: “Clean hydrogen plays a key role in the race to decarbonise many sectors of the economy. As a central plank of the European Green Deal, renewable and low-carbon hydrogen will not only foster the conversion of our industrial sector to green energy, but will also offer significant business opportunities for EU companies. I welcome the initiative of 22 EU Member States and Norway to launch an IPCEI and thus to add an important building block for the development of the hydrogen markets and cross-border infrastructure in Europe.”

Joint European projects – known as IPCEIs – have already been successfully set in motion in Germany in the field of battery cell manufacturing and microelectronics. As a joint investment thrust by collaborating European enterprises backed by state support, these European projects deliver a significant boost to the EU’s internal market and thus foster growth, employment, innovative capacities and global competitiveness throughout Europe.

In the Council conclusions on industrial policy negotiated under the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the EU Member States affirmed the importance of the IPCEIs and also called for greater transparency and openness in the process. Throughout the Presidency, the Economic Affairs Ministry has worked not only on today’s launch of an IPCEI on Hydrogen, but also on the development of further potential IPCEI projects, e.g. in the field of microelectronics and communication technologies and for the development of an industrial cloud. In view of the forthcoming revision of the legal framework for IPCEIs next year, proposals for improvements have also been made, such as the need for speedier approval processes. Participation in an IPCEI should be possible for interested parties from all Member States, and particularly for SMEs.

Source: BMWI, press release, 2020-12-17.

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