Von der Leyen approves EUR 2.2 billion for Czechia's green transformation

In a visit to the Czech capital, Ursula von der Leyen commended the country's blend of tradition and innovation in cutting emissions.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 26.09.2023 14:06:00 (updated on 26.09.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen lauded today the Czech Republic's pivotal role in advancing the approval of the EU-wide Fit for 55 climate package during the Green Deal Summit held in Prague. Also today, EC approved the revised Czech National Recovery Plan, which will see Czechia receive an extra EUR 2.2 billion (about CZK 53.6 billion) to finance clean energy projects.

An overarching EU aim

In her remarks, von der Leyen expressed Europe's staunch support for the Czech Republic's commitment to the Green Deal, emphasizing that European companies are eager to drive innovation but require a stable and predictable environment to invest in groundbreaking initiatives – an assurance that the Green Deal offers.

The EC president confirmed also today that a total of EUR 736 million euros will be allocated to fund various projects aimed at bolstering the country's infrastructure, renewable energy sources, and sustainable transportation networks. In total, Czechia will have EUR 9.2 billion available from the EU for environmental purposes.

The Fit for 55 climate package, a comprehensive set of measures to combat climate change, has significant progress in 2023 as EU countries endorsed another section of its climate standards package in April. This collective effort also signifies the EU’s determination to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade, with the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality across the continent by 2050.

The Green Deal also includes provisions to enhance Czechia's capabilities in line with its transition to a greener economy. These measures encompass workforce development and skills-building initiatives, ensuring that the nation is well-equipped for the challenges posed by a sustainable future.

Czechia taking big strides

Czechia has taken additional steps to expand its Green Deal commitments. These include plans for the construction of social housing, the modernization and digitization of energy distribution systems, a focus on reinforcing cybersecurity in public services, and participation in the REPowerEU project—an initiative aimed at reducing reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala engaged in discussions with von der Leyen about upgrading the Transalpine Oil Pipeline, a critical link connecting Czechia with Italian ports. This upgrade could potentially reduce Czechia's dependence on Russian oil. However, it is worth noting that state investments for this project still await approval from the EC.

Czechia is also awaiting EC approval for the planned expansion of the Dukovany nuclear power plant. Fiala expressed optimism about receiving this approval, emphasizing the pivotal role nuclear power plays in Czechia's energy mix and its contribution to decarbonizing the country's energy sector. He highlighted Czechia's substantial expertise in nuclear energy, evident in its universities and research and development initiatives.

Challenges ahead, but broadly optimistic

President von der Leyen acknowledged that individual EU member states have the prerogative to determine their energy mix. She emphasized the EC's recognition of the importance of nuclear power for Czechia and expressed willingness to evaluate state subsidy programs in support of this sector.

Addressing the EU's forthcoming challenges, von der Leyen pinpointed energy prices, unfair competition from foreign producers, and certain permitting processes. She noted that while the EU remained united in coping with the energy crisis of the previous year, energy prices in Europe remained higher than those on other continents, posing a threat to global competitiveness. 

Nevertheless, von der Leyen expressed optimism, foreseeing protection from high prices for imported fossil fuels through continued growth in renewable energy sources.

Highlighting the Czech Republic's potential, von der Leyen commended the country's blend of tradition and innovation, characterizing it as having all the necessary elements to lead in the clean economy of the future. She underscored Czechia's strong industrial base and ingenuity, emphasizing the nation's historical significance in European manufacturing.

Von der Leyen also praised various Czech companies for their environmental endeavors, including Skoda's hydrogen-powered bus and a prototype hydrogen-powered Tatra truck, showcasing the Czech Republic's commitment to sustainable innovation. Additionally, she reassured regions in the Czech Republic with coal mining traditions that investment in these areas was a top priority within the Green Deal framework.

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