Over the last year, we have achieved a lot by working together. We've shown resilience, agility and vision in ensuring Europe's prosperity by
- Boosting our energy independence through REPowerEU and countering Russia's energy war against the EU economy
- Accelerating the green transition
- Strengthening the EU's position in the race to net zero through the Green Deal Industrial Plan
- Shaping a human-centred digital transformation in Europe
- Championing European values and interests through Global Gateway investments worldwide
- Strengthening our Single Market and social market economy
- Boosting our competitiveness with the support of NextGenerationEU
Regaining our energy independence
Russia did not just wage war against Ukraine, but also against Europe’s economy by weaponising energy supplies. With REPowerEU, we are ending our dependency on Russian fossil fuels, regaining and ensuring Europe’s long-term, sustainable energy independence.
This has been a unified, European effort. Member States have cooperated to ensure every country has an adequate supply of gas, while the EU has worked to diversify its energy supply at affordable prices.
- 70 bcm of Russian pipeline gas was replaced in the first 8 months of the war
- Stopped imports of Russian coal and slashed imports of Russian oil
- Filled European gas storage to record levels, reaching over 95%
- Saved energy and reduced our gas consumption by 18% between August 2022 and March 2023
EU Energy Platform
The Commission has also established the EU Energy Platform to organise the first-ever joint purchase of gas for Member States, along with Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and countries in the Western Balkans. This joint purchase allowed us, for the first time, to use our collective political and market weight to amplify our bargaining clout and secure gas and LNG supply by pooling demand and attracting suppliers.
Accelerating the green transition and protecting nature
As a key pillar of REPowerEU, renewable energy has seen significant progress during the energy crisis, with the additional deployment of renewables doubling across the EU in 2022.
- More electricity produced from wind and solar than gas in 2022
- Almost 4x as much energy from solar photovoltaic installations by 2030
To keep up the pace in the race to net zero, and to bolster the competitiveness of the EU's industry, the Commission unveiled the Green Deal Industrial Plan on 1 February 2023.
In March, three key initiatives supporting the Green Deal Industrial Plan were introduced
In June 2023, the first Just Transition Fund project broke ground in Narva, Estonia: a new rare earth magnet refining facility for electric vehicles, the first such facility outside Asia. It is also connected to a new mine in Greenland, making it the first European mine-to-refinery supply chain.
We have also continued to fight to restore nature across the European Union with the recently proposed Nature Restoration Law and the Zero Pollution Action Plan. Meanwhile we have adopted legislation that will keep unsustainable products off our supermarket shelves with the EU deforestation law, and made progress on accomplishing our Fit for 55 objectives.
This transition will of course impact farmers and rural communities. The 2023-27 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that came into effect at the beginning of the year, will support farmers in producing safe, quality and sustainable food, whilst also preserving the vitality and diversity of rural communities.
Realising Europe’s Digital Decade
Digital innovation is reshaping our economy at breathtaking speed, and the EU is keeping pace. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution is firmly upon us, which is why the Commission put forward the Artificial Intelligence Act already in April 2021. This will ensure that AI systems in the EU are safe, transparent, ethical, unbiased, and under human control.
The European Parliament and EU Member States reached an agreement on the European Chips Act in March, with the Council formally approving the regulation to strengthen Europe's semiconductor ecosystem in late July. In terms of data, the driving force behind Europe's digital economy, we are striving to make the EU a leader in a data-driven society, with the European Data Strategy. Speaking of the economy, the Commission put forward two new proposals to bring payments and the wider financial sector into the digital age over the last year as well.
The region of Saxony, in Eastern Germany, has successfully mastered a transition to become one of the preeminent technology hubs in Europe, with a special focus on microelectronics. EU funding played a key role and has helped attract additional investments. The most prominent project is a new Infineon chips fab, an investment of €5 billion which will create over 1 000 new highly-skilled jobs. €1 billion is expected to be granted under the EU Chips Act.
- Investment into the European Chips Act is estimated at over €43 billion
- €8 billion French and Italian investments into first-of-a-kind semiconductor facilities
- €8.1 billion in public funding under ‘Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI)’
Another milestone was reached in November 2022, when online platforms assumed greater responsibility for mitigating harm and protecting the rights of users, with the entry into force of the Digital Services Act (DSA). To enforce the DSA, the Commission launched the European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency (ECAT) in April 2023, which is hosted in the Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
In the same month, fairness and contestability in digital markets was enhanced through the enforcement of the Digital Markets Act.
Strengthening our Single Market and social market economy
This year we celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the Single Market – the foundation of Europe’s enduring competitiveness. In March, the Commission outlined a new long-term approach to how the EU can build on its strengths by fostering thriving businesses, able to compete on the global market, with attractive jobs and setting global standards.
We have proposed other ways to support and further strengthen the Single Market this year too. In May, we proposed the most comprehensive and ambitious reform of the Customs Union since its establishment in 1968. A month earlier we proposed new rules on patents that will create a more transparent, effective and futureproof intellectual property rights framework.
The EU economy continues to show remarkable resilience amid the successive economic shocks of recent years. In 2022, the rebound in growth was an impressive 3.4%. The expansion was supported by a robust labour market, with unemployment rates hitting record lows and increasing employment. This outcome owes much to the decisive action taken by the EU and its Member States.
Of course, our unique European model prioritises not only commercial opportunities, but also societal welfare, placing people at the heart of our economy. To this end, and since we steadfastly believe in the power of social dialogue, we have proposed measures that strengthen social dialogue at both national and EU level. At the same time, we have to make sure our social safety nets are fit for purpose. That is why we put forward recommendations to ensure adequate minimum income across EU Member States.
Underpinning all of this is Europe’s need to invest heavily in lifelong learning, which is fundamental to the success of the green, digital, and demographic transitions. That is why we’ve made 2023 the European Year of Skills, for which Member States have allocated around €65 billon in EU funds.
- 1 500 organisation in the EU joined 14 industrial ecosystems
- €160 million invested in skills initiatives
- 2 million people have benefited from up- and re-skilling activities
- 15 500 training programmes were either updated or developed
NextGenerationEU and boosting European investment
In 2022 and 2023, our common European investment of €800 billion in NextGenerationEU began, with tangible on-the-ground projects, to build a Europe that is sustainable, resilient, and competitive, to guarantee prosperity for all Europeans.
At the core of NextGenerationEU lies the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which makes available unprecedented financial resources to all EU Member States. They are using these funds to implement transformative reforms and investments that will change European economies and societies for the generations to come. The implementation of the RRF continues at full speed.
One of the biggest receivers of the Finnish Recovery and Resilience Plan is Solar Foods, a startup that produces protein through a bioprocess using green hydrogen. The patented “Solein” can be used to produce any food, literally out of thin air. This is not science fiction – the startup is receiving €33.6 million for a demonstration factory in Vantaa, Finland.
Global Gateway and boosting global investment
The EU continues to play a pivotal role in constructing a global economy that is resilient, sustainable and growing for all. With Global Gateway, a €300 billion plan for sustainable investments across the world, the Commission is supporting top-quality infrastructure projects that bring jobs, lasting growth, and create value locally.
The inaugural milestone of the Global Gateway materialised in the Africa-Europe Investment Package. Half of initial Global Gateway investments, approximately €150 billion, is dedicated to bolstering cooperation with African partners. Since then, we have started implementing Global Gateway in Asia and the Pacific and in Latin America and the Caribbean, where President von der Leyen announced that the EU and its Member States would invest over €45 billion.
90 projects have been launched worldwide this year across the digital, energy and transport sectors through Global Gateway to strengthen health, education, and research systems globally.
Relaunching Europe’s trade agenda
Trade and Technology Councils
In the spirit of international collaboration, the EU has established Trade and Technology Councils with the United States and India to foster productive partnerships and address common challenges.
Despite the shock to supply chains caused by the pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, we have made strides in promoting trade openness through tangible achievements in engaging with key trading partners. Notably, negotiations on free trade agreements were successfully concluded with Chile and New Zealand, while negotiations continued with Australia, Mercosur, Mexico, India and Indonesia.
On 20 June, the Commission and the High Representative presented a new European Economic Security Strategy. The strategy focuses on minimising risks arising from certain economic flows in the context of increased geopolitical tensions and accelerated technological shifts, while preserving maximum levels of economic openness and dynamism.
- General publications