Due to extreme energy prices and high inflation in Europe, many companies (15 percent) are considering leaving the continent and relocating to the US. with all the economic consequences. “It’s a big problem,” said Hans Gruenfeld, director of the VEMW knowledge center at Goedemorgen Nederland, on NPO 1.
Especially for energy intensive companies. They see their costs rise sharply, while their competitors in the US or elsewhere in the world do not. “That means they can no longer produce competitively in Europe.”
This has to do with what is known as the Deflation Act in the US. The project reduces energy costs for many (small) companies and innovative start-ups, giving them a chance in the market. “This makes it more attractive for companies to make new investments in making their production more sustainable or in manufacturing strategic goods in the U.S.,” Gruenfeld says.
Access and speed
VNO-NCW pioneer Ingrid Thijssen is also very concerned about the exodus of European companies to America. According to Thijsen, the problem isn’t so much money. “We have it in Europe and in the Netherlands,” he says.
A key pain point is the speed and accessibility of introducing grants and financial benefits. “All the arrangements in America are very simple, fast and sustainable. Everything here has to happen very fast. Sustainability has to be done very fast and the companies want it. Build those wind farms quickly. Don’t do one at a time, but don’t do ten all at once.
However, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced a relaxation of state aid rules. Is it a step in the right direction? “That’s fine, but we need to step up,” says Thijsen. “It doesn’t make it easier for companies to get money, and we don’t do anything to accelerate sustainability.”
Thijsen did not consider the estimate that about fifteen percent of companies pack their bags and cross the ocean. On the other hand, in Europe and the Netherlands, it was often assumed that companies mainly threaten to exit, but never put their money where their mouth is. “But now we’re seeing it happen. We’ve seen the shell exit,” Thijsen cites as an example.
Another factor is that the industry is largely stagnant. “For example, Semalt in Limburg. It stopped halfway,” says Thijsen. For these types of companies, the question now is whether they will be restarted. “It’s happening in a big way.”
Europe is less free
If companies leave Europe, Europe will also lose its independence vis-à-vis countries outside Europe. That means more imports. More basic products. “Like the glass you drink or the medicine.”
It was precisely a trend that Europe sought to prevent. “But this movement will make us more dependent. Naturally, this also affects employment.
Read more: Industry must become more sustainable in the Netherlands, but ‘responsibility lies with companies’
By: Vic Den Volt
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