European Green Deal must be social too

The various sections of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) have joined forces to highlight that the EU’s future sustainability requires people’s participation and appropriate funding.
A truly sustainable EU will only be possible in future if the whole of society supports and participates in the process and if the right funds are available to allow a just and fair transition. At a debate held in Brussels on 5 March 2020, EESC members stressed that the new Green Deal – the von der Leyen Commission’s political declaration on a sustainable Europe by 2050 – needed to be backed and owned by all EU citizens and to match its ambitions with the right financing.
Pierre Jean Coulon, chair of the meeting and president of the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN) which organised the event, said: “We need to bear in mind that it is not by snapping our fingers that we will make all these changes. We need the political will to make the transition happen and we need to focus on the social aspects and financing.” Giving the example of the sometimes cumbersome recharging stations for electric vehicles, he pointed out that there were still many challenges ahead and that it was therefore important to be realistic and reasonable.
The president of each EESC section took the floor to emphasise the importance of working together on a crosscutting topic like this, in order to break down silos and seek to improve coordination.
In a written message, Lucie Studničná, president of the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI), said she considered the Green Deal initiative to be a huge opportunity for Europeans, while also entailing a large number of potential risks and threats. She said that its implementation through a sectoral approach was extremely important and could hopefully give birth to a new European sustainable industrial pillar. She went on to draw attention to wood, forestry, textiles, construction, steel, chemicals, cement, maritime, electronics and plastics as the priority sectors where industries and workers would face the greatest challenges.
The social dimension of the Green Deal was the focus of the message from Christa Schweng, president of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC). Referring to the Just Transition Fund and to the principle that nobody should be left behind, she made it clear that this mechanism was designed to support change in the regions that were most dependent on fossil fuels or carbon-intensive processes, steering investments and providing support for workers who needed reskilling. She also explained that those Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a social dimension were mirrored in the European Pillar of Social Rights and were already integrated into the European Semester process.

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Future European economic policy must be in line with the European Green Deal

The Committee urges EU Member States to make sustainable economic growth the top priority for European and national economic policies in 2020 and beyond and recommends complementing the current accommodative monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) with a cautiously expansive fiscal policy at euro area level.

In the EESC’s view, the Green Deal represents not only a major shift for EU economies, but also an opportunity to enhance economic prosperity and convergence within the euro area and the EU as a whole. The Green Deal should become the backbone of future EU and euro area economic policy and lead to a new economic paradigm. The economic priorities for 2020 should therefore be aligned with it.

At today’s plenary session (19/02/2020), the Committee adopted its opinions on the European Commission’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2020 (ECO/502) and on the recommendation for the economic policy of the Euro area (ECO/503). The opinions deliver the perspective and contribution of Europe’s organised civil society to the ongoing debate on the economic priorities for the year ahead and beyond in the framework of the European Semester. The priorities were discussed by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 18/02/2020 and will be formally adopted at the upcoming European Summit in March 2020. Continue reading “Future European economic policy must be in line with the European Green Deal”

We need a wellbeing economy that works for people and the planet

The EU is currently confronted with emergencies that are challenging its prevailing economic models. Slogans that until recently were used as the flagship of the European project, such as growth, jobs and prosperity, are no longer enough to speak to the hearts of the young generations of Europeans. The EU is under pressure to respond to a number of multifaceted challenges, which originated from a decade of economic and migration crises, social discontent and environmental degradation. It needs to reinvent itself fast, for the sake of its citizens.

This EESC opinion aims to define what “the sustainable economy we need” should look like by exploring a new vision of prosperity for people and the planet, bringing together economic, environmental and social dimensions in an integrated manner. The EESC is calling on the EU to propose new economic models, investment decisions to harness technological advances, and new indicators for the wellbeing economy, in order to regain citizens’ trust and belief.

With the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 worldwide, and the European Green Deal, with the goal of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the EU has finally made these issues its top priorities.

However, the most important thing is that this Green Deal becomes a real Green and Social Deal, making sure that the transition to a climate-neutral economy, which leaves no one behind, is just and coherent from A to Z. In fact, we need to rethink the whole system.

To ensure a just and green transition and implementation of the SDGs, we have to re-think our EU economy. ‘We must reboot the system but we need new software, not just an update!’ said rapporteur Peter Schmidt. Continue reading “We need a wellbeing economy that works for people and the planet”