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S&Ds: The Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform means money for high-tech industry and high-quality jobs


17 Oct 2023


Global Europe
The Socialists and Democrats stand in support of the mobilisation of existing EU funds for high-tech industry and call for an additional €13bn to preserve European competitiveness in global markets while creating high-quality jobs for citizens. This will be possible with the establishment of the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) – a proposal the European Commission made in June this year. While the S&D Group had initially hoped for a fully-fledged Sovereignty Fund, promised by President Ursula von der Leyen, the S&Ds worked hard to make sure EU funding under STEP is equally accessible throughout the Union – and not only to member states with a well-established high-tech sector.
Jonás Fernández, S&D MEP and negotiator of STEP in the European Parliament's committee on budgets, said:
“We, the Socialists and Democrats, are convinced there are no second-class EU member states; everyone has to have equal access to funding for the creation of strategic technologies. This cannot be an area reserved for the privileged if we really want the European Union to be competitive in global markets and create high-quality jobs throughout the EU. That is why I am happy we built a strong majority preserving money from cohesion funds where they are needed most – strictly in member states with a GDP lower than the Union's average. The same applies for the EU Innovation Fund. We found a compromise where 50% of the Innovation Fund will be reserved for member states with a GDP lower than the EU average while the other 50% will be open to 27 member states, including those with a lower GDP. After 2025, any unused money will be available to all.
“We also go further than the European Commission and ask for an additional €13bn for STEP – on top of the existing funds the Platform will be composed of. In addition to this, our Group has also proposed a system in order to avoid the loss of €93bn, which has not yet been spent from the Next Generation EU programme. Under this system, countries would only be able to use this money for strategic projects in the STEP framework.
“All of this would be the first step towards the creation of a much-needed Sovereignty Fund to preserve and strengthen the internal market and our industry.”
Matthias Ecke, S&D MEP and negotiator of STEP in the European Parliament's committee on industry, research and energy, said:
“If the European Union is truly on the path to digital and green transition, we need a way to streamline spending and we need to do it in a smart way, be it for renewable energy, microelectronics or artificial intelligence.
“It was crucial for our Group to make it easy to apply for EU funding under STEP, free of unnecessary bureaucratic burden. We had to improve the proposal of the European Commission and bring some clarity. For this reason, we deleted unclear definitions and replaced them with what EU business already knows from existing EU laws.
“The creation of the quality seal for projects to be funded under STEP is another priority of the S&D Group. This seal will be given by a task force to projects that adhere to high social and labour standards.”