EU’s commissioner for energy visited northern Sweden
On March 17, Kadri Simson, EU-Commissioner responsible for EU energy policy, was in Norrbotten and Västerbotten to gain knowledge about the major industrial investments that are happening in northern Sweden and what the energy supply looks like for a green transition in the EU. She met with representatives from the industry but also regional politics.
Energy matters are priority issues on the EU's agenda, and it has become even more obvious how dependent Europe is on fossil fuels such as oil and gas for its energy needs, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia accounts for 40% of the natural gas in the EU. In the coming year it will be significantly reduced with the measures presented by the European Commission, but to phase it out completely will be difficult.
At the same time, the EU's ambitions to meet the climate goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector are high. These climate goal also affect Sweden's energy system, including forestry, and the extent to which products from trees can be considered sustainable or not in the energy mix. These are issues that are on the table of EU Commissioner Kadri Simson, and during the ongoing war in Europe and negotiations on the EU's major climate package, she paid a visit to northern Sweden.
Northern Sweden – a leading region in EU’s green transition
The major industrial investments, especially in Norrbotten and Västerbotten, are attracting great interest from the EU and in the spring. Now that it is possible to travel more again after the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be several important visits from the EU to the region, in addition to the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and many others in the EU who repeatedly point to the green transition that is taking place in the region as an example for all of Europe to follow.
Investment that attracts attention are the steel production without coal, in collaboration with the Hybrit project that LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall are working on a pilot operation in Luleå and the new battery factory Northvolt in Skellefteå. These were also two of the activities that Kadri Simson and her team from the European Commission visited. In addition, a requested visit was made to Kvistforsen's hydropower plant outside Skellefteå to gain more knowledge about hydropower in Sweden.
Meeting with politicians
During the day, Simson had lunch with local and regional politics from Norrbotten where discussions focused on the energy situation with challenges and opportunities including the forest's role to replace fossil fuels and issues such as the need for investment funds to handle societal change around the major industrial investments in the municipalities.
From the politics participated:
Kenneth Backgård and Nils-Olov Lindfors, Regional Councilors in Region Norrbotten
Claes Nordmark and Carina Sammeli, Municipal Councilors Boden and Luleå
Erik Bergkvist, Member of the European Parliament, who is from the Region of Västerbotten
Christian Danielsson, Director for the European Commission's office in Stockholm.
Rickard Carstedt, Regional Councilor in Region Västerbotten