Oct. 25, 2002 — Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, announced last week a coordinated long-term plan for Europe to make the transition from fossil-fuel dependency to become the first “hydrogen economy” superpower of the 21st century.

The American author and consultant Jeremy Rifkin, who serves as an advisor to President Prodi, is the architect of the strategic white paper that launched the EU energy initiative.

“The EU decision to transform Europe into a Hydrogen Economy over the course of the next half century is likely to have as profound and far-reaching an impact on commerce and society as the changes that accompanied the harnessing of steam power and coal at the dawn of the industrial revolution and the introduction of the internal-combustion engine and the electrification of society in the 20th century,” Rifkin said.

The plan includes a $2 billion dollar EU commitment over the course of the next several years to bring industry, the research community, and government together in pursuit of a common road map toward a Hydrogen Economy future.

President Prodi said that the EU’s scientific effort would be as important for Europe as the space program was for the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. With increased public concern over global warming, Third World debt, and rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East – all of which are deeply connected to oil – the EU initiative is timely and critical.

Jeremy Rifkin, who serves as an advisor to President Prodi, prepared the initial white paper that led to the current EU energy initiative. The American author, consultant, and professor is a fellow at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, where he teaches in the Executive Education Program, and is president of The Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC. His new book, The Hydrogen Economy, was published this fall.