Policy & Regulation

04 Dec 2020

EU Commission Eyes ‘Green Trade Agenda’ with President-elect Biden

04 Dec 2020  by MARIAN WILLUHN   

With transatlantic ties between Washington and Brussels under strain in recent years on issues including trade, multilateralism, and the Paris Agreement, the European Commission, with Ursula von der Leyen at the helm, has showed itself willing to bury the past and establish a renewed partnership — among other things by proposing a ‘green trade agenda.'

European Commission high representative and vice president, Josep Borrell.  Image: European Union, Aurore Martignoni

A joint communication issued by commission president Von der Leyen and high representative Josep Borrell has detailed six key areas which could take center stage at an EU-U.S. summit planned during the first half of 2021.

Von der Leyen invited president-elect Joe Biden to join a transatlantic commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. Other areas for cooperation could include emissions trading, carbon pricing, and taxation and the planned EU carbon border adjustment mechanism has been framed as a project that could see mutual support and cooperation to set a global template.

Green bonds

The European Commission said sustainable finance regulations are another topic that should receive attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Brussels pointed to its work providing economic relief after the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with green bonds meeting 30% of investment needs. The policymakers say much bigger sustainable finance volumes will be needed, providing an opportunity for the U.S. and EU to write the rulebook on sustainable finance mechanisms.

Such investment would be needed to reap the fruits of green tech pioneers in both markets, according to the commission communique. The EU body has proposed a new green tech alliance to create markets and co-operation for clean and circular technology. That would include renewable energy, grid-scale energy storage, batteries and clean hydrogen, as well as carbon capture, utilization and storage. The alliance would build on previous cooperation efforts by the EU-U.S. Energy Council.

“We are taking the initiative to design a new transatlantic agenda fit for today's global landscape,” said von der Leyen. “The transatlantic alliance is based on shared values and history but also interests: building a stronger, more peaceful and more prosperous world. When the transatlantic partnership is strong, the EU and the U.S. are both stronger. It is time to reconnect with a new agenda for transatlantic and global cooperation for the world of today.”

The commission has invited the European Council to endorse its proposals as a “roadmap for a new transatlantic agenda for global cooperation.” The plan would inform next year's EU-U.S. summit.

“With our concrete proposals for cooperation under the future Biden administration, we are sending strong messages to our U.S. friends and allies,” said commission vice-president Borrell. “Let's look forward, not back. Let's rejuvenate our relationship. Let's build a partnership that delivers prosperity, stability, peace and security for citizens across our continents and around the world. There's no time to wait – let's get to work.”

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