Germany, France throw weight behind EU's 'green' recovery plan

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France and Germany want a “green” European Union recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, including recovery roadmaps for all economic sectors and a minimum price for carbon permits, according to a plan that drew praise from some EU lawmakers.

French President Emmanuel Macron listens at a joint video news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss Europe's economic recovery plans to respond to the coronavirus crisis at Elysee Palace in Paris, France May 18, 2020. Francois Mori/Pool via REUTERS

The 27-nation bloc’s two biggest economies say the plan - published on Monday and including a proposed 500 billion euro EU recovery fund - should accelerate its shift to a low-carbon economy.

The Commission’s Green Deal climate policies are “the EU’s new growth strategy”, Germany and France said, echoing EU leaders’ promises to use climate goals to guide the recovery.

Every sector should be given a “green recovery roadmap” that could include climate targets, while EU state aid rules should be reviewed to support climate goals, they said.

“This is finally a step forward for European solidarity and the climate,” said German Green lawmaker Michael Bloss.

“I welcome that the Green Deal is at the heart of this investment strategy,” French EU lawmaker Pascal Canfin said, referring to the European Commission’s climate policy.

Paris and Berlin urged the bloc to press ahead with plans to impose carbon costs on imports, set a tougher emissions target for 2030 and achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2050.

This fell short for some campaigners, who say the options being considered for a new 2030 EU emissions reduction target would fail to curb catastrophic climate change.

The proposal suggests “insufficient climate targets”, Greenpeace climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang said.

The Commission has proposed a legally-binding EU target to reach “climate neutrality” by 2050 – which means offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions with measures such as carbon capture or planting trees. Poland is the only nation that has not committed to the target.

Germany and France also repeated their call for a minimum price for permits in the EU carbon market.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alex Richardson