On her visit to Canada, the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, addressed the Canadian parliament as part of her charm offensive across the Atlantic. Her goal is to promote cooperation in areas such as energy transition, climate action and support for Ukraine.
With the fallout from the war in Ukraine felt across the European Union, the bloc is racing to end fossil fuel reliance on Moscow and ramp up the production of homegrown renewable energy. But Von der Leyen knows that will require more access to critical minerals and raw materials like lithium – which Canada has.
Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the European Commission president agreed to develop cross-Atlantic trade in green hydrogen to help the EU meet its energy needs. “The European Union is planning on producing on its own 10 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030, but also importing 10 million tons of hydrogen by 2030,” said von der Leyen.
Canada is actually the only country in the northern hemisphere with all the raw materials needed to produce lithium-ion batteries. In January, von der Leyen put forward the idea of a “Critical Raw Materials Club”, which she is expected to pursue on Friday with US President Joe Biden.
Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that Canada is extending its mission to train Ukrainian combat engineers and medics until October. Trudeau also pledged $3 million Canadian dollars for de-mining efforts and vowed with the EU to deliver generators to Ukraine, which has suffered repeated attacks on its power grid since the full-scale Russian invasion began a year ago.
“Canada will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine as long as it takes,” said the Canadian president.
Ottawa has committed more than one billion Canadian dollars in military assistance to Ukraine over the past year, including Leopard 2 tanks, other armoured vehicles, surface-to-air missiles, howitzers and munitions.
Von der Leyen welcomed Ottawa’s commitment, while recalling that the EU has spent more than 12 billion euros on military equipment for Ukraine and intends to complete training for as many as 30,000 Ukrainian troops by the end of the year.
Von der Leyen is on a multi-day visit to Canada. She will then travel to the United States where she will be received on Friday by President Joe Biden.