- A “Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform” (STEP) to channel up to €160 billion in investment
- Proposed budget of €10 billion, MEPs advocate an additional €3 billion
- The scheme will support the deployment of digital, net-zero and biotechnologies
The “Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform” aims to boost digital, net-zero and biotechnologies and enable the EU’s industry to achieve the digital and net-zero transitions.
Parliament adopted its position on Tuesday on the establishment of a “Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP)” designed to boost critical strategic technologies through financial support, the ‘Sovereignty Seal‘ and ‘Sovereignty Portal‘.
STEP aims to strengthen various EU programmes and funds and to channel up to €160 billion into new investments, alongside cohesion policy incentives and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The platform will foster the growth of crucial technological value chains in the digital economy, net-zero industries, and biotechnologies, as well as addressing labour and skill shortages, and supporting innovation. In their amendments, MEPs advocate for an extra €3 billion on top of the Commission’s proposed €10 billion, bringing the STEP budget up to €13 billion in new funds.
STEP should also act as a “testbed for a fully-fledged Sovereignty Fund in the next MFF period”. MEPs ask the Commission to conduct an interim evaluation by 2025, including a proposal to amend STEP or a new proposal for a fully-fledged European Sovereignty Fund.
They insist that the STEP, along with long-term EU budget revision, should be agreed as soon as possible, as the package should be integrated into next year’s annual budget to be negotiated in November 2023.
“STEP was once planned to be a new European Sovereignty Fund – but it is not. With STEP, the Commission is trying to square a policy circle, but the proposal suffers from three competing goals: producing the necessary technologies to achieve our climate goals, increasing Europe’s sovereignty vis-à-vis other regions, and strengthening cohesion among EU member states,” said lead MEP for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee Christian Ehler (EPP, DE).
“Strategic investments are vital in reinforcing our autonomy and contributing to a geopolitically united Europe” asserts co-rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT). “The STEP initiative is comprehensive and uses existing programmes like InvestEU and Horizon Europe. We propose 13 billion EUR – instead of 10 billion like the Commission proposed – to boost this strategy, ensuring projects add value not only locally but across the entire EU. It’s essential to have synergies between these funds, a geographical balance, and transparency, upheld by the pivotal STEP Committee we ask for, avoiding added bureaucracy and focusing on prompt project execution” he added.
The legislation was adopted with 385 votes to 85, with 151 abstentions. Negotiations with the member states can start as soon as the Council agrees on a common position.
The “Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform” aims to strengthen European competitiveness and resilience in strategic sectors and to reduce their dependence on foreign supply chains. It foresees support for the development and manufacturing of critical technologies and addresses labour and skills shortages.