Analytics, Ecology, EU – Baltic States, Modern EU

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 29.03.2020, 08:50

Green Deals’ final approval: great days for Europe

Eugene Eteris, BC International Editor, Brussels, 13.12.2019.Print version
These days will go in Europe’s history: the College of Commissioners agreed on the European Green Deal, EGD. The “deal” is both a European vision for a climate-neutral development by 2050 and a clear roadmap with fifty actions to reach the goal. Therefore, the old growth-models based on fossil-fuels and pollution is out of member states’ economic policies: they have to elaborate something new.

Climate change and environmental degradation present an existential threat to the European states. To overcome this challenge, the EU institutions have to develop a new growth strategy to transform the states’ economies onto modern, resource-efficient and competitive paths, e.g. with zero-green-house emissions by 2050 and with economic growth being decoupled from resource use. 


The Union’s message to the member states through the EGD is to reconcile the socio-economic development with the European and global sustainability principles. It is not an easy task, as the EGD shall reconcile the traditional production and consumption models with some which would be completely different.


Our magazine has already informed the BC’s readers about the EGD’s initial issues*) and about EGD’s effect on the energy sector**); now it is time to send the decision-makers a strong message of “changing the course of actions” inspired by the EGD’s next steps.


*) http://www.baltic-course.com/eng2/editors_note/?doc=20930;

**)  http://www.baltic-course.com/eng2/modern_eu/?doc=152950

 

According to the “deal”, the member states will be obliged to limit pollution and cut harmful emissions; although keeping in mind the need for creating jobs and boosting innovation. Thus, the main EGD’s message to the states is that the old growth-model based on fossil-fuels and pollution is out of date; the states have to elaborate new growth strategies based on sustainability, i.e. “giving more back than it taking away”, as the Commission’s President has asserted. These new growth  strategies shall be different in climate friendly industries, in clean technologies, in green financing, etc.


An overwhelming majority of Europeans consider that protecting the environment is important (95%). Almost 8 in 10 Europeans (77%) say that protection of the environment can boost economic growth. The results of the Eurobarometer survey concerning environmental attitudes of EU citizens confirm the wide public support for environmental legislation at EU level and EU funding for environmentally friendly activities.


More in: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_19_6691 

 

This “green transition” will be inclusive: it shall be working for all and be just; hence the suggestion on the “Just Transition Mechanism” as an important part in the EGD with about € 100 billion targeted to the most vulnerable regions and sectors. The EGD has a broad roadmap, which also includes biodiversity and forests, agriculture and food, green cities and circular economy, to name just a few.


Communication on the key actions in the “Road Map” in:

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/european-green-deal-communication-annex-roadmap_en.pdf

 

The Commission President underlined that already in the present “Road Map” there are some answers: these actions are the start of a “great journey, like a European “man on the moon” effort, she acknowledged.  The European Green Deal is both very ambitious and very careful in assessing the impact of every single step taken, she added.


The European Green Deal will be inclusive: European citizens are supposed to change their lifestyles to help protect the climate and sustainability. The EGD is both a responsibility and an action plan. On the 12th of December the Commission President presented the European Green Deal to the European Parliament (together with Frans Timmermans); then, on 13.xii the President will present the European Green Deal to the EU leaders at the summit in the European Council (Frans Timmermans will present the European Green Deal to the COP25 in Madrid later on).


More in: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/embed/index.html?ref=I-182024&lg=undefined 

 


Financial aspects

As to the EGD’s budget aspects, the European Council President, Charles Michel told EU leaders in his invitation letter to the first EU summit (11-13.xii.) he stressed that the leaders “must recognize that it will require efforts from all member states”. The EU institutions, on one side, are putting in place a framework and the necessary resources to chart a fair and balanced path towards; on another side, these measures have to take into account different national realities and potentials. For example, some member states (e.g. Poland, etc.) heavily depend on coal in their energy production: that shall be included into “the EGD’s transition costs”. Then, the EU budget shall “include a compromise formula” to prevent the deal from failure.


The financial priorities in the member states are different indeed: thus, in preparation for the EU budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework), the Commission proposed citizens a fictional €100 to spend on behalf of the EU, and see what they do with it. Respondents of an unofficial publication showed that in Germany they would allocate the largest share (17.5 percent) to education, research and innovation. In comparison, out of the 2019 EU budget, only 9 percent is spent for this purpose. Respondents would spend 16.5 percent of EU funds on climate and environmental policies; the EU in 2019 spends only 1 percent of its common budget on that. Peoples’ third priority is security, and the reality gap is as wide here too: according to the poll conducted in November in Germany, agricultural and cohesion policies should each account for about 10 percent of the budget; however, the EU is currently spending 36 and 35 percent respectively on these issues.


Therefore, the priorities in the Baltic States are different too: both from each other and from other EU regions. I just wonder, what would be the Latvian leaders’ priorities? 


The EGD’s Roadmap

The “Roadmap for action” includes fifty practical steps on Europe's path towards 2050. It will take more than a generation to reach that goal as the roadmap will be evolving and adapting through years.


In the beginning of December 2019, about 45 European largest investors, representing € 6 trillion of assets, called on the EU institutions to adopt as quickly as possible a climate law for climate neutrality in 2050. It would give them a confidence to make long-term decisions for modern investment with a sign of accountability and reliability.


And therefore, a crucial EGD’s building block for 2020 is the proposal of the first European Climate Law. It will set clear rules, so that investors and innovators can plan their long-term investment. It will make the transition towards climate neutrality accountable and reliable. And in summer 2020, a plan will be presented to increase the EU ambition in cutting emissions.


The roadmap is followed by a thorough impact assessment, to better understand where the member states can be bold but also where they must be prudent, i.e. the EU wants to be both ambitious and realistic. The preliminary results will be ready in time for next year's COP-26 in Glasgow. Europe will lead by example, but we also need more ambitious multilateral rules for the whole world.


Every country has to find its own path, though the ultimate goal must be the same for everyone and positive change must be rewarded. The member states have to change the production schemes: thus, if companies invest in clean technologies, they cannot face unfair competition from heavy polluters. In this regard, the EU will apply a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, in full compliance with WTO rules.


More in Communication on the key actions in the “Road Map” in:

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/european-green-deal-communication-annex-roadmap_en.pdf

 

But the EGD is not only about reducing emissions: it is about numerous things, like boosting innovation, food quality, modern mobility and “green new businesses”. It is about turning the green transition into green opportunities and business opportunities. Some are converting plastic waste into modern furniture, for example; farmers are using satellites data to adapt to climate change, and “made in Europe” batteries for electric cars are finally becoming reality.


More in Commission’s presentations: 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_19_6751 

https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/embed/index.html?ref=I-181467&lg=undefined 

 

In the Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans speech (he is in charge of the European Green Deal in the Commission) at the European Parliament Plenary Session in Brussels on 12th of December, he expressed his satisfaction of the MEPs’ support for the EGD. “This is a great start of what is going to be quite a bumpy road, where we will need both institutions to concentrate on all the elements that we need to make the Green Deal work”, he underlined.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_19_6753

 


Conclusion

The EGD sets out a new growth strategy by tackling some of the most important environmental and climate-related problems. By adopting a long-term vision for the environment, industries and business will get more regulatory certainty so that they can make significant investments in modernising and reducing their environmental impacts. The innovations and solutions that businesses develop first in the EU will provide a basis for commercial success internationally. Such a transformation will make the EU's economy more resilient to climate and environment-related risks in the future.


More on EGD in the Commission communication: 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_19_6690

 

As the European Council acknowledged, achieving climate neutrality by 2050 would “require overcoming serious challenges”. The Council recognizes the need to put in place an “enabling framework” encompassing adequate instruments, incentives, support and investments to ensure a cost-effective, just, socially balanced, fair and technologically neutral transition. It has to limit disproportionate impact of policy measures especially on households and not hamper mobility taking into account different national circumstances in terms of starting points and the costs of this transition, which will be higher for less wealthy EU states than for others, concluded the Council’s draft. 

 

Our magazine will follow the EGD’s progress for our readers in the next articles.

 






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