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The European Green Deal

with Maria Kottari
The European Green Deal presents without doubt the headline policy ambition for the European Union for the decades to come. But what is exactly the European Green Deal? What does it mean and what does it imply for the European Union as a whole and for its Member States? The European Green Deal is a set of measures that the current Commission, the von der Leyen Commission, has presented in December 2019. This set of measures has an overarching goal to enable the EU to become climate neutral by the year 2050. The European Green Deal initiates a roadmap of key policies building upon energy and climate policies that are already in place.
However, it is not another energy and climate framework but has ambitions that go far and beyond that. The European Green Deal covers key economic and social aspects across almost all the EU policy sectors. It requires changes in government policies, in business strategies and consumers’ behaviour and it will channel significant investments in breakthrough green technology sustainable solutions. As such, the European Green Deal aims to become the new European Union growth strategy bringing significant developments in the financial system. The success of the European Green Deal depends heavily on the engagement, the commitment of the European citizens and stakeholders across all the relevant policy areas.
That is why it sets a path for a transition that will be just and socially fair, especially for those workers, industries and regions that will face the most of the challenges and it provides for the creation of a Just Transition Mechanism and a Just Transition Fund. But how will the EU gradually reach the climate neutrality goal? At first, the European Green Deal made the provision for increasing the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target from 40% to at least 55% by 2030. To achieve this emissions reduction, the so-called carbon sinks, the natural reservoirs that accumulate and store carbon emissions, are supposed to play a key role. These will bring along updates in the EU agricultural and forestry policies.
The European Council of December 2019 has endorsed the objective of making the EU climate neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. All the EU Member States committed to implement this objective with exception of Poland. Poland supported the 2050 objective but was unable to commit and this is because of the heavy reliance of its economy on coal. This example clearly showcases the different capacities that EU Member States have to reach the emission cut targets set at EU level. While transforming the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy, the European Green Deal will ensure that economic growth is decoupled from resource exploitation.
There is a heated debate about how is it possible to actually achieve the emissions reductions that are required to combat climate change while still being able to grow the economy and maintain socio-economic welfare. Well, the example of the EU and the European Green Deal vision shows that this can materialise if the right measures target the right sectors. In this graph, the ascending blue line represents the increase in the EU GDP, while the red descending line relates to the reduction of the net emissions as we move towards 2050. As already mentioned, the European Green Deal will be mainstreamed across many policy areas. Let’s have an overview at the most important ones.
So, the European Green Deal brings forward the proposal of a European Climate Law in order to enshrine the objectives into legal obligations. It supports biodiversity, sustainable food system and sustainable agriculture. It sets the conditions for a decarbonised energy system and a new industrial policy based on the principle of circular economy. It promotes smart mobility, the elimination of air pollution and it mobilises funds from the InvestEU programme and the European Investment Bank. On the whole, the European Green Deal is an unprecedented effort to review more than 50 European laws and to redesign public policies.
To achieve the increased ambition in terms of emissions reduction target, the European Commission is currently reviewing every European law to ensure its alignment under an exercise termed the “Fit for 55” package. This lengthy process has already begun in July 2021. This graph includes a selection of the key legislation that the EU Commission proposed to revise in light of the higher emissions reduction target. This review is intended to be effective by the time the Member States begin to update their national energy and climate plans in 2030 so that these plans reflect the new EU climate ambition.

In this video, Maria Kottari provides an overview of the European Green Deal. The European Green Deal is setting additional targets and ambitious policies, at EU level and in cooperation with international partners, to effectively fight climate change and become a climate-neutral continent and a climate-resilient society by the year 2050. To implement the increased ambition of reducing net emissions by at least 55% by 2030, and deliver the other targets set by the European Green Deal, the European Commission presented in July 2021 the first series of legislative proposals for the creation of a coherent policy framework under the so-called ‘Fit for 55’ package.

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