On 11th December 2019 the European Commission presented the European Green Deal to transform the European Union into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.
What is the European Green Deal
The Green Deal lays out a detailed European plan as an initial roadmap for tackling climate change and economic inequality to improve the quality of life of the EU and its citizens. It reviews and resets the Commission's environmental targets, requires more public investment and increased efforts to direct private capital towards climate and environmental action.
The full text of the European Green Deal can be found here.
What are the main policies advanced by the Green Deal
Towards this aim, the Green Deal sets out various policies and goals to be followed and the main factors include the following:
- increasing the greenhouse gas emission reductions target for 2030 and becoming net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 which will be enshrined in a 'climate law' to be presented by the European Commission;
- achieving and accelerating the transformation of industries into circular economy with new waste and recycling laws to ensure cleaner and greener industries;
- increasing the rate of renovation of private and public buildings to boost the construction sector and to lower energy bills;
- accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility/transport;
- designing greener, healthier and fair agriculture system with reduced use of chemical pesticides, antibiotics and fertilisers to stimulate sustainable food consumption and promote affordable healthy food for all;
- restoring and preserving ecosystems and biodiversity;
- creating a toxic-free environment with zero pollution for air, water and soil;
- pursuing green finance and investment and ensuring a just transition which needs significant investments requiring the mobilization of both public and private sectors; and
- improving research and development and fostering innovation to be competitive in clean technologies.
How will this initiative be implemented in Member States
The key factor that will drive these policies and goals is that they will be enshrined in legislation which in turn will translate into EU policies and political obligations towards these changes. Not only implementation but also enforcement of such legislation and policies is crucial for their success. The Commission and the Member States must work together to ensure EU policies and legislations are enforced and delivered effectively. The Commission will also present a new environmental action programme to complement the Green Deal that will include a new monitoring mechanism to ensure that Europe remains on track to meet its environmental objectives.
Further, the Commission recognises the need and the importance of involvement and commitment of the public and of all stakeholders for the transition to be successful. The Green Deal reiterates that it is crucial for citizens to be the driving force of the transition without whom the Green Deal may fail. The Commission will be launching various events and channels to engage with the public to encourage information sharing, inspiration, and foster public understanding of the threat and to empower regional and local communities in this regard.
The Green Deal sets out forty-seven actions in total to be implemented in 2020 and 2021 to make Europe the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The Commission's proposal for European Climate Law was submitted in the beginning of March 2020.
The Commission also has launched an open public consultation on the future European Climate Pact which aims to give everyone a voice and space to design new climate actions, share information, launch grassroots activities and showcase solutions that others can follow. The consultation period will be open until 27th May 2020 and all European citizens are welcome to contribute through this link.
The full list of actions and detailed timeline of the Green Deal can be found here.
How this will affect businesses and individuals
It is planned that the Green Deal would propose legislation empowering consumers and changing the way of production, use and consumption of respective products. According to the Green Deal, legislation will give consumers access to reliable information on issues such as the reparability and durability of products to help them make environmentally sustainable choices.
Realising the Green Deal will require significant efforts both from the public and the private sector. The action plan aims to provide beneficial opportunities such as better consumer rights, GDP growth and jobs' creation but will also pose challenges to businesses. Any business, from small to large, will be affected by the new transition policies of the Green Deal and unless the Green Deal is planned and connected with a strong industrial strategy that mobilises huge amounts of investment wisely, it may lead to job losses and de-industrialisation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.