EuropeOn Secretary General met with President Ursula von der Leyen and Maros Sefcovic

This is an unprecedented meeting for EuropeOn: on 22 February, our Secretary General Julie Beaufils was invited by President Ursula von der Leyen and Executive vice-president Maros Sefcovic to a Clean Transition Dialogue focusing on clean tech. Other participants included start-up entrepreneurs, CEOs of big manufacturers and utilities and peer associations’ leaders.

The meeting took place in the Commission’s headquarters only a few days after Mrs. Von der Leyen publicly announced that she was running for a second mandate at the head of the institution. In her introductory speech, she mentioned the overall industry support to the Green Deal and showed determination in moving on to the “how” chapter, that is to say: how to deliver the energy and digital transition. The President hinted at various challenges: re-industrialising Europe and the need for financing (the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank was in the room), providing predictability to businesses, and recruiting labour while Europe experiences record-low unemployment rates.

Executive Vice President Maros Sefcovic moderated the exchange, as his portfolio includes speeding up the energy transition, strengthening clean industrial innovation and competitiveness and steer the Commission’s forward-looking policymaking.

After hearing many participants raise ideas and concerns regarding regulatory frameworks and financing, Julie Beaufils took the floor to delve into the last (but not least) segment of a successful clean tech strategy: deployment. The latter substantially lies in the hands of qualified electricians!

The electrical contracting sector involves close to 2 million professionals in Europe and roughly 400,000 more jobs can be created by 2030 in clean tech (EuropeOn’s assessment focused on rooftop PV + storage + e-mobility, sadly not counting heat pumps).

But the sector struggles to recruit. In many countries, vacancies reach 10%, sometimes 15%, of the current workforce.

Alluding to earlier discussions on financing and investment, EuropeOn Secretary General stressed that education too is an investment. Europe’s clean tech strategy cannot overlook training qualified workers to deliver a sustainable, safe and high-quality energy transition. It is urgent to promote technical education, which has been devalued for decades in many countries.

Further, for companies to invest in skills, trainings and recruitment strategies, they require predictability in their governments’ plans. This is why Julie Beaufils called for an Electrification Action Plan that would set a clear target of 35% electrification of final energy use across the EU by 2030.

In the past few days, Executive Vice President Maros Sefcovic has let several Clean Transition Dialogues which will result in a report that should inform the Commission’s reflection for the next tenure. The report is expected in April.