Statement by President von der Leyen at the Baltic Sea Summit

Thank you very much Prime Minister, dear Mette,

It is wonderful to be here with you, the Leaders. And I think that the Baltic Sea Leaders' Summit shows that a wind of change is blowing across Europe. We are harnessing the power of wind to break free from Russian fossil fuels and to become climate-neutral. And offshore wind energy can make a huge contribution to that. With the targets that have been set today, Baltic Sea offshore wind will cover the energy consumption of around six million households by 2030. That is more than the number of households in Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia combined. That is amazing. And we can do so much more. We now need regional cooperation to realise the full potential of offshore wind in Europe. So the European Commission strongly supports the regional cooperation initiatives – such as this one.

We are making available EUR 5.6 billion from NextGenerationEU for the deployment of offshore and onshore wind in Europe. I encourage Member States to work together in using these funds. The cross-border projects are so important. We want to prioritise hybrid projects, which link offshore wind farms with more than one Member State. Because hybrid projects will save space, they will save money – they can cut up to 10% of projects' costs. And indeed, a great example, dear Kaja, is the ELWIND offshore wind project. And I am very glad that today, we could select ELWIND as an important cross-border project – PCI. Because it makes it eligible for EU funding under the Connecting Europe Facility, and that is good news.

One more important point is: We will accelerate the permitting process. We know that it is far too long – it takes many, many years, six to nine years. In the REPowerEU plan, there is a proposal to speed up this permitting process. I encourage Member States to endorse the proposal and implement it. Then we could guarantee that the permitting process takes less than one year.

Now, I think that it is important, indeed, that we look at the different topics that bring us to the electricity price situation that we are in right now. And dear Prime Minister Morawiecki, dear Mateusz, I am with you on one point; I am not so much with you on another point. If I may mention that first, we need the Emissions Trading System to cut CO2 emissions because it is the CO2 that causes climate change. And we know how much the negative impact, the devastating impact of climate change is already threatening us. We just have to look at the droughts this summer.

But the real driver for the increase of electricity prices is somewhere else. That is gas, and mainly Russian gas that has been manipulated by Putin. Putin, who uses gas as a weapon. And you can see that in the figures. If you look at the electricity price, 94% of the electricity price is composed of other things, mainly gas, than ETS. ETS is only 6%. Or if you look at the evolution of the price: Compared to last year, ETS increased by 58%, mainly because more coal is used, but gas increased by 580% – tenfold. So we should really address the driver of this electricity price increase. That is what we need to tackle. And I think that climate policy is security policy because if we invest in renewables, they are home-grown, they are clean, they are cheaper and they make us independent.

Where I am absolutely with you, Prime Minister Morawiecki, dear Mateusz, is on the pricing mechanisms of the electricity market. And you know that I have announced yesterday that we are looking into it, to develop an emergency tool and to work for a long-term structural reform of the electricity market. This has to be addressed. The electricity market is no longer a functioning market because there is one actor, Putin, who is systematically trying to destroy it and to manipulate it. So we really have to react to that. And that is why we are addressing now the composition of the electricity market. And there, I am with you, Mateusz.

Last but not least, Putin's attempt to blackmail us with fossil fuels is failing. We are accelerating the green transition. We are getting rid of the dependency of Russian fossil fuels. And we are accelerating the clean, cheaper and home-grown renewable energy.

Thank you.