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Budget cuts threaten EU’s green and digital transition, says EU Commissioner

Written by Tue 26 Mar 2024

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European Commissioner, Elisa Ferreria, said European Union (EU) countries’ budget cuts had a detrimental effect on government structures crucial for facilitating the transition to a green and more digital economy.

During the eurozone crisis from 2009 to the mid-2010s, budget cuts resulted in staff reductions in public administrations, impeding training programmes and the adoption of new technologies, according to the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.

Reuters reported this weakened governments’ ability to effectively manage the transition towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced economy. 

“But we are asking for the public administration to adapt, to do green budgeting, to use artificial intelligence (AI)… and often they do not have the means to deliver,” Ferreira, reported in Reuters.

EU Announces 170 Reform Projects

Today, The EU has announced 170 projects under the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) to support Member States in designing and implementing 307 reforms in 2024, aiming to strengthen Member States’ competitiveness, resilience, and modernisation.

The reforms supported by the TSI will align with the EU and Member States’ joint political priorities. Around 31% of the selected reforms will concentrate on transitioning towards a net-zero economy, focusing on initiatives like the Green Deal Industrial Plan, biodiversity preservation, and advancements in green transport.

The TSI will also aid national, regional, and local public administrations in integrating technological and digital systems. This focus intends to foster greater AI proficiency. Approximately 27% of the selected reforms will be dedicated to facilitating the digital transition.

“Public Administrations are more and more expected to respond to emerging challenges and to deliver on common priorities, from the transition to a net-zero economy to the role of AI in an increasingly digital society. Reforms are necessary for economic resilience, competitiveness, and a fair and inclusive society,” said Elisa Ferrera.

TSI will assist EU Member States in exploring AI’s potential in securely and efficiently processing data concerning social security, welfare, and employment. 

It will also promote gender equality within public administrations leveraging AI capabilities. The TSI will tackle digital financial literacy, aiding Member States and citizens in adapting to the reliance on digital platforms for complex financial transactions.

EU to Improve Clean Tech Production

Last month the European Commission announced the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) which aims to help the EU become home to clean technologies by improving the permit process for projects that aim to improve clean tech production.

“The NZIA will facilitate the scale-up of the cleantech industry through easier permitting, support for innovation and skills and leveraging public demand through resilience criteria in renewable auctions and procurement,” said Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy at the EU.

Overall, the NZIA intends to make strides towards building a strong domestic manufacturing capacity of those technologies in the EU. 

However, concerns have been raised that the actual implementation by public administrations could hinder the timely execution of projects. This bottleneck could delay the development and deployment of clean technology and the secure supply of critical materials, undermining the intended goals of the new laws.

Earlier this month, the EU Parliament approved the EU AI Act to ensure the safety and compliance of the technology whilst enhancing innovation. The regulation was endorsed by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) with 523 votes in favour, 46 against, and 49 abstentions. 

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Written by Tue 26 Mar 2024

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