State aid: Commission approves €3.2 billion public support by seven Member States for a pan-European research and innovation project in all segments of the battery value chain
The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules an Important Project of Common European interest (“IPCEI”) jointly notified by Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden to support research and innovation in the common European priority area of batteries. The seven Member States will provide in the coming years up to approximately €3.2 billion in funding for this project, which is expected to unlock an additional €5 billion in private investments. The completion of the overall project is planned for 2031 (with differing timelines for each sub-project). The project will involve 17 direct participants, mostly industrial actors, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), some of which with activities in more than one Member State. Demand for batteries is expected to grow very rapidly in the coming years. Forward-looking research, development and innovation policies will have a key role to enable Europe and its Member States to make the most of this transition. The Commission launched at the end of 2017 a “European Battery Alliance” with interested Member States and industrial actors and adopted a Strategic Action Plan for Batteries in May 2018. Today’s project is part of these efforts. The Commission assessed the proposed project under EU State aid rules, more specifically its Communication on Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and found that the proposed IPCEI on batteries fulfils all the required conditions set out in its Communication. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a “Europe fit for the Digital Age” and Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Battery production in Europe is of strategic interest for our economy and society because of its potential in terms of clean mobility and energy, job creation, sustainability and competitiveness. Our Important Projects of Common European Interest smooth the way for public authorities and industries from several Member States to come together and design ambitious innovation projects with positive spill-over effects across industrial sectors and regions. The approved aid will ensure that this important project can go ahead without unduly distorting competition.” Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “Our focus on scaling up innovation under the European Battery Alliance is yielding strong industrial partnerships. Thanks to intensive efforts by seven Member States, industry and the Commission, Europe’s first major pan-European battery ecosystem is emerging, with lead projects in all segments of this strategic value chain. We have found the right recipe for our 21st century industrial policy: strong cooperation between industrial actors, concerted action to accelerate lab-to-market innovation, joined-up financial instruments from both, private and public sectors, and a fit-for-future regulatory framework to underpin a stronger European knowledge-based economy.” The full press release is available online.