How the German EU presidency should prioritise for a prosperous, modern, competitive, climate neutral industry
By: Franziska Weber, Industry & Governmental Affairs; Clarios EMEA
In just a few months the economic convulsion resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the EU to its core. As Germany takes on the EU-presidency it is looking to steer the bloc through this most challenging time, and quite rightly its priority is to achieve a speedy and sustainable recovery for all member states. Doing that at the same time as meeting climate goals in a ‘just transition’ is an enormous ask and one which will require a much closer partnership between the EU institutions and business.
German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas has set out the ambition. He said: “We want to strengthen the EU’s social and economic base…We want to make our continent more climate friendly and sustainable. And we want to make Europe’s interests and values more heard in the world.”
Absolutely yes. But to achieve economic growth and protect the EU’s interests on the global stage we need a new and better co-ordinated approach to planning for the future if we’re to achieve the kind of strategic autonomy policymakers seek. And that all needs to happen in the context of fair competition and a recognition that many EU-based businesses are already part of global, outward-looking companies. While rebooting the economy with an eye-watering €500 billion recovery plan, the EU will hopefully recognise the many strengths of its existing industrial base. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated more clearly than ever that Europe must establish strong value chains to achieve true strategic autonomy.
One that is too often overlooked, but is a strategically significant manufacturing success story, is the lead battery value chain. Almost 100 % of the lead battery chain’s raw materials are recycled in the EU. The lead industry supports highly advanced manufacturing across 15 members states together with a globally recognised research and innovation network developing next-generation battery technology. And it underpins a wide range of other critical industries – from automotive to telecoms – and employs many tens of thousands in skilled roles.
The batteries we produce here embody all of the circular economy principles set out in the EU’s action plan, with 100% of batteries collected recycled in a closed loop. Lead can be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality or performance. Thanks to its closed-loop economy, the lead battery value chain generates billions of euros from its products at the end of life, conserving natural resources and minimising waste by returning the lead to the product cycle an infinite number of times.
As EUROBAT sets out in its message to the German presidency securing access to supply chains for materials, and recognising the importance of all battery technologies in the chemicals strategy of the Commission will be crucial to achieving a highly competitive European battery industry.
As we work towards an economic reboot, advanced lead batteries – made and recycled in Europe – must continue to play a central role if we are to achieve a swift and truly green recovery.
Read more about how batteries are already building on a European success story.