European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday defended the principle of a carbon tax on imports into the EU if the transition to carbon neutrality by 2050 affects the competitiveness of EU businesses.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, she said, however, that such a tax would not be imposed if equitable conditions are respected worldwide.
The European Union supports the principle of a carbon tax for trading partners from outside the Union, a position confirmed by von der Leyen in Davos. “There is no point in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at home if we increase the import of CO2 from abroad,” she said.
“It is not only a climate issue; it is also an issue of fairness (…) towards our businesses and our workers” who need to be protected from unfair competition, she noted, describing the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism as one way of doing so.
“But I prefer to encourage our trading partners to work with us for a global level playing field, for the benefit of all of us,” she stressed. “If this turns into a global trend, no carbon border tax will be necessary.”
The European Commission President also came out in favour our international cooperation rather than nationalism.
“This is not about one president, one country or one party,” she said. “It is a global phenomenon driven by personal sentiments” linked to changes in the workplace, and fears “about the future of their families or their business. People stick to all the rules, they give their very best every day, and no matter how hard they try, they feel the world is moving faster.”
Given all that, Mrs. Von der Leyen noted, “we need to rediscover the power of cooperation, based on fairness and mutual respect”. She called this the “geopolitics of mutual interest.”