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New Climate Agenda Highlighted during TREFF

On 26 August it is time for Transport Efficiency Day 2020. Katarina Areskoug Mascarenhas, Head of the European Commission in Sweden, will be one of the speakers. She will discuss the EU's new climate agenda, which will make the EU the world's first climate-neutral continent in 2050.

What is your background?
-"I have worked with EU issues since Sweden became a member in 1995 – but from somewhat different viewpoints. I have worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) at the Swedish representation in Brussels, in the European Commission in Brussels, at the Prime Minister's Office in Stockholm, and now most recently as Head of the European Commission's office in Stockholm. They have been very rewarding workplaces in many different ways; partly because we learn a lot about different areas of society and partly because it is fascinating to follow how the EU collaboration is constantly developing – not infrequently through various crises that the collaboration experiences."

Tell us about your presentation The Green Given - the EU's New Climate Agenda!
-"Since 1 December 2019 we have had a new European Commission and President, Ursula von der Leyen. One of her main priorities is for the EU to become the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In my presentation I will talk about the proposal from the Commission on how to proceed. This includes everything from increased restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (at least 50% and eventually 55%), an expansion in trading in emission allowances (ETS) for shipping and aviation, renovation of buildings and stricter exhaust gas standards to how this green transition will be financed. The transportation sector is a very important part of the transformation. The EU's transportation sector currently accounts for 25% of emissions."

Why do you think it is important to be part of a conference like TREFF?
-"I think it's great and very important that you highlight the EU's work in this area, because the transport sector will be affected by a lot of new EU legislation in the coming years as a result of the ongoing green transformation. Hopefully this can lead to further exchanges of ideas and experiences that can shape the new legislation that is now being developed by my colleagues in Brussels. Our office in Stockholm is tasked with telling people what is going on in various sectors of society within the EU cooperation and can also promote additional contact with experts in various departments within the European Commission."

What are the European Commission's thoughts on the Covid-19 pandemic?   
-"It is a massive tragedy that this pandemic has hit us so hard and that so many human lives have been lost. It feels both surreal and incredibly sad. The EU cooperation does not have decision-making power in terms of public health or healthcare, but has nevertheless tried to supplement national efforts, for example, with collective procurement of protective equipment. We are also involved in leading a global cooperation to accelerate the development of a vaccine. We have greater opportunity to take action in the economic sphere, because we have the right to submit proposals in this area. For instance, we have put forward a proposal for a major financial recovery plan to get Europe's economies back on track and avoid ending up in a continued deep economic crisis. This is also important for countries that are dependent on exports, such as Sweden. Half of our GDP comes from trade and 2/3 is with the rest of the EU. So Swedish jobs and Swedish welfare depend entirely on Europe opening up again and starting to produce and consume as usual."