Miniature people businessmen sitting on Chess Analysis Communica

APMM CEO Vincent Clerc writes:

In the high-stakes geopolitical chess game, Europe sits at a critical juncture. The US dominates. Its economic, large-scale industrial policy, tech and cultural influence spans continents. China advances methodically. Its economic prowess, decisive investments and assertive approach make it ever more influential. Europe, once a queen, now finds itself a pawn — moving with caution, struggling to achieve the unity needed to assert itself, often caught in national interest clashes and bureaucratic intricacies.

To succeed, Europe must be bolder. We will soon have a new European Commission and Parliament and I strongly believe that Europe can transform, surprising everyone on the board. I believe that further incentivising the green energy transition, easing the implementation of new technology, and once again making the region a strong base for companies to innovate would be among the most transformative moves.

On the green agenda, we have witnessed substantial advancements in the past five years with forward-thinking regulation charting the path to net zero. But global competitors are pulling ahead. In China, scalable green fuel solutions are hitting the market at an enviable pace while financial incentives and less red tape are helping companies expand their lead. Momentum is also building in the US, with the Inflation Reduction Act. In response, Europe needs an action-oriented energy strategy that goes beyond national divides and translates research, framework conditions and political visions into reality.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown the risk of energy dependency. Europe should now leverage the energy transition to create strategic autonomy. The “Fit for 55” framework has laid out a solid foundation. But now it time for more “carrot” — incentives and investments in industries that will dominate in the future. Simplifying the disbursement of funds and moving from financing one-off pilots towards more ambitious projects would be obvious levers to aid the production of renewable energy and green fuel at scale.

European companies like Maersk are making substantial investments in new technologies and assets that will accelerate the green transition. But a committed Europe also has a key role to play on the global stage. For example, pushing the International Maritime Organisation to agree on a price mechanism that will see those emitters who sail on fossil fuels pay extra while subsidising those sailing on green fuels.

Historically, Europe has been a thriving hub for innovation. However, productivity growth in the US has been more than double that of the euro area and the UK over the last two decades. US investment into innovation and research is also nearly twice that of the EU, while competitors across the Atlantic are propelled forward by Silicon Valley powerhouses and a thriving startup ecosystem. China is making massive investments in AI, 5G and quantum computing.

While Europe boasts a rich history of scientific invention, the region remains cautious on tech, grappling with bureaucracy and restrictive regulations. Commanding new technologies is essential for anyone aspiring to tilt the playing field. Rather than adding more regulation, Europe should increase funding and incentives for research and development and establish more attractive conditions for investing.

As of now, Europe is not in check, let alone checkmate. But its lack of determination leaves it vulnerable. It must consolidate its pieces, streamline regulations, integrate deeper and invest boldly. Otherwise, we risk becoming mere spectators in the high-stakes geopolitical match.

Vincent Clerc

CEO, A.P. Moller – Maersk

#Maersk #Europe #China #US #decarbonisation

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