March 4. 2024. 10:44

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Von der Leyen meets Scholz ahead of her US visit


EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday (5 March) she is determined to counter challenges from US subsidies for green technologies and to speed a currently blocked law on phasing out combustion engines from 2035.

Visiting Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the German cabinet at the start of a two-day meeting near Berlin, von der Leyen said the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) would bring huge tax breaks for clean technologies made in the United States.

“We have discussed our answers: negotiations with the US about interpreting the law, investments of our own, and speedier processes,” she told reporters at Meseberg near Berlin.

Von der Leyen will discuss the divisive IRA with President Joe Biden in Washington on 10 March.

Biden and von der Leyen to meet amid subsidies dispute

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will discuss clean energy and supply chains with President Joe Biden in Washington on 10 March, the White House said, as European nations worry that new US subsidies will hurt their economies.

European electric carmakers had been given access to US tax advantages but the EU needed to ensure they also benefited in the batteries and battery component segments, where more talks were needed with Washington, she said.

European legislative action within a fortnight would propose to unleash European aid and funds so far not used for the green transition at home, she said.

A Commission report on competitiveness, due at the same time, would help lower barriers inside the internal EU market and address shortages of specialised labour, which von der Leyen called a “brake on growth.”

Separately, fresh from agreeing trade deals with New Zealand and Chile, the EU is seeking deals with Australia, Mexico and the Latin American Mercosur bloc by the end of 2023, she said.

Scholz and von der Leyen said that trade agreements were also being eyed with Indonesia and India.

Commenting on the delay to ending sales of new CO2-emitting cars in the EU in 2035 after Germany questioned its support for the policy, she said the issues could be resolved.

“It has to be in balance with our climate goals on which there is agreement,” she said. “The discussion is constructive.”

EU diplomats reacted with surprise and annoyance to Germany’s last-minute refusal to back a ban on the sale of new combustion engine cars by 2035, which has led to a postponement of the vote to approve the law.

Anger at Germany as vote to finalise combustion engine ban is delayed

EU diplomats reacted with surprise and annoyance to Germany’s last-minute refusal to back a ban on the sale of new combustion engine cars by 2035, which has led to a postponement of the vote to approve the law.

Von der Leyen also said the EU was keeping a close watch on whether China sticks to commitments not to help arm Russia in the Ukraine war. “We are monitoring this every day,” she said.