Concrete steps towards the Net Zero Industry Act’ at EU level and its influence on Inland Waterway Transport (IWT)
On 21 November 2023, the European Parliament adopted its position, based on the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) position, on the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), with 376 votes in favour, 139 against, and 116 abstentions.
The NZIA is a proposed EU industrial policy that aims to boost cleaner technologies and enhance the skills of the related workforce. The proposed regulation would set up the framework of measures for scaling up the manufacturing capacity of identified net-zero technologies in the EU. Such technologies are listed in the Article 3a.
The proposed regulation introduces a governance system for Net-Zero Strategic Projects (NZSPs) by member states, emphasizing CO2 reductions, competitiveness and security of supply. Including national-level instruments such as: streamlined permitting, private funding coordination, limited public subsidies, and procurement criteria favouring industrial sustainability. The NZIA introduces measures to ensure a skilled workforce supporting the production of net-zero technologies in the EU. Net-Zero Industry Academies will be established, overseen by the Net-Zero Europe Platform (Articles 65, 66a, 66b, 66c).
Advancing the NZIA: Trilogue Negotiations and Legislative Finalization
Following the European Parliament’s adoption of its position on the NZIA, the next step involves Trilogues negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission to finalize the legislation.
The NZIA might result the IWT sector. It presents opportunities for technological advancement, access to financing, and skill development but also poses challenges in terms of adapting to new regulations and sustainability criteria. The involvement of SMEs and startups in innovative projects could be a key driver for modernizing the IWT sector in line with the objectives of this regulation.
Promotion of Net-Zero Technologies: a strong emphasis is placed on fostering net-zero technologies, which may include innovations in energy-efficient and low-emission propulsion systems relevant to IWT (Article 1; Article 3a; Chapter II, Section I).
Innovative Technology Development: Net-zero regulatory sandboxes (Article 26) could encourage the testing and development of advanced, environmentally friendly technologies in the IWT sector, such as alternative fuel systems or emission reduction technologies.
Enhanced Focus on Environmental Sustainability: The emphasis on environmental sustainability (Article 19) could lead to stricter standards and criteria for IWT operations, pushing for cleaner, greener technologies in this sector.
Investment and Financing Opportunities: Potential for IWT projects to access financing and investment support (Article 15 and 15a), especially if they align with net-zero objectives and contribute to decarbonization efforts.
CO2 Reduction Focus: With the push for CO2 injection capacity targets (Article 16), there may be increased regulatory and operational pressures on the IWT sector to adopt carbon capture or reduction technologies.
Strategic Technological Development: The Strategic Energy Technology Plan (Article 26d) could prioritize research and development in IWT-related technologies, fostering innovation in this sector.
SME and Startup Engagement: Special measures for SMEs and startups (Article 27) could benefit smaller players in the IWT sector by providing them with enhanced opportunities to participate in innovative projects and access to regulatory sandboxes.
Governance and Coordination: The establishment of the Net-Zero Europe Platform (Article 28) and related sub-groups may offer a forum for discussing and advancing IWT-specific initiatives within the broader net-zero technology focus.
Skills Development and Training:£ The European Net Zero Industry Academies (Article 23) could provide specialized training and skill development opportunities for the IWT workforce, aligning with new technological and environmental standards.
Potential for Increased Regulatory Requirements: The document’s emphasis on innovation and environmental standards might lead to increased regulatory requirements for the IWT sector, necessitating adjustments in operational practices.