In a special address delivered at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered an upbeat vision of a strong and united Europe despite the war in Ukraine and global climate change challenges.
“Europe will always stand with the Ukrainian people,” said von der Leyen. “Russia’s relentless attacks and the spectre of rising energy prices have not shaken our resolve. There will be no let-up in our steadfast support for Ukraine,” she added.
Europe is providing over €18 billion ($19.5 billion) in financial assistance to Ukraine in 2023 – the largest assistance package ever conceived by the European Union for a third country. The first tranche of 3 billion euros has already been dispersed, helping pay to restore critical infrastructure such as hospitals and school. “We are in it for as long as it takes,” she said.
Europe’s reaction to the war shows how the European Union can come together when it matters, she emphasized. A case in point is energy. In less than a year, Europe’s dependency on Russian energy sources has been reduced dramatically. Von der Leyen pointed out that more than 80% of Russian pipeline gas has been replaced. “Europe has shown the power of its collective will,” she said.
On climate, the European Commission president stressed that Europe has no time to lose in its transition to a clean economy. The net-zero transition is already causing profound economic and geopolitical shifts, she said.
“In less than three decades we have to reach net zero,” she said. “In the next few decades, will see the greatest industrial transformation of our times.”
In the longer term, Europe’s ambition is to become the world’s leader in clean tech. “The story of the clean-tech economy will be written in Europe,” she pointed out. The EU’s strategy rest on four pillars: a regulatory environment which provides speed and access, financing for clean-tech production, upskilling and boosting trade.
“The Net-Zero Industry Act will identify clear goals for European clean tech by 2030, focusing on strategic projects across entire the supply chain,” she said.