Guest post by Katheryn Rivas
Copenhagen has been bustling and buzzing this past week with formal induction ceremonies as Denmark for the seventh time takes the helm of the EU. The Danish government has put concentrated most of their six-month rotating presidency agenda this term in what they call “green growth” — even the Danish National Girls Choir, which performed “Plant a Tree” during the festivities, wore green skirts in allegiance with the nation’s directives.
This is a much-need push toward green regulations for the European Union. Other countries, with more rapidly expanding economies, such as China, are far out-performing the EU in this regard, so it was with excitement and enthusiasm that Denmark and the rest of the EU welcomed the ambitious agenda.
However, on the day Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish prime minister, was to be formally inaugurated as EU President, Vestas, the Denmark-based global leader in wind turbine production, announced they would be letting almost 2,500 of their employees go, with the majority of the layoffs happening in Denmark.
Of course, even as EU president there was nothing Thorning-Schmidt could do to prevent the layoff, but Vestas’ announcement could not have come at a worse time. Instead of optimistically focusing on the green initiatives Denmark had planned, Thorning-Schmidt was riddled with questions about the layoffs, and was thrust into a defensive position, forced to explain the sudden — and apparently antithethetical — industry upheaval.
Furthermore, there was undoubtedly some measure of skepticism about Denmark’s commitment to its own “green growth” plan, when it had just cut back its own contributions to the cause at home. Thorning-Schmidt insisted in a press conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that, “this setback should not make us change our strategy. We need to be world leaders in energy efficiency, new technologies, green technologies, because we think it is not only good for the environment but it is also good business for Europe.”
Barroso added that the extensive layoffs at Vestas were a direct result of the sovereign debt crisis that is similarly affecting all European countries, noting that on a previous visit to Denmark many other companies across all sectors — not just the green technology companies — were experiencing cutbacks as well.
In the end, Barroso reassured the assembly that “the reason behind the crisis in Europe is not because of the investment in green technology,” which is a message that the EU desperately needs to hear. It was indeed poor timing for Vestas to release their announcement during on inauguration day — but despite the uncertain light the layoffs cast on Denmark’s agenda, the EU will do well to embrace the green technology challenge so that it does not become outdated and obsolete.
Katheryn Rivas writes on the topics of online university. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.