A proposal to reinvent sustainable economic growth that has been tabled by the European Commission will help the bloc reach the sustainability goals set by the United Nations by 2030.
With just over a decade remaining before the 2030 target date, the European Commission has begun asking whether its objectives will be met and what sort of economic model will be needed to achieve the agenda that has been set.
The EU executive hopes to discuss with the bloc how it can “lead the transition towards sustainability in the interests and well-being of all” and how the European Union can follow the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
For a more sustainable Europe, preservation of the bloc’s core basic values is vital, according to Commission vice-presidents Frans Timmermans and Jyrki Katainen, who also pointed to recent alarming signals from some leaders who questioned the foundations of democracy.
Timmermans went further to underline the role of average citizens by suggesting that “sustainable development begins and ends with people. It is about making our economy and our society sustainable and prosperous at the same time,” who also reiterated that one of the most important factors of the sustainability transition, including the transition from a linear to a circular economy, is the improvement of the balance of food systems and energy production, as well as making mobility more durable in the future, to “ensure that this transition is fair and no one is left out of it”.
The Commission’s report has put forward three scenarios to help facilitate a discussion on how to follow up on the EU’s Sustainable Development Goals, including an overarching strategy that acts as a guideline for all of the bloc’s members, as well as a non-binding approach that would be limited to streamlining all relevant EU policies concerning sustainable development, and, finally, focusing on external actions that help consolidate current sustainability ambitions at the EU level.
The key drivers in the transition towards a sustainable Europe are, according to the Commission, divided into six sectors – education, training, science, technology, research, innovation, and digitisation. The Commission’s InvestEU plan in the financial sector can mobilise part of the resources needed for a sustainable transition, while its Action Plan on Sustainable Finance is expected to help put finance on a sustainable path.
The EU also believes that corporate social responsibility, through the creation of socially and environmentally responsible businesses, can lead to more sustainable profits and growth, as well as new market opportunities and long-term value for shareholders. Their development will later reflect the true environmental and social costs of production and ensure that sustainable products and services become more affordable in areas such as tax systems and pricing.
Promoting international rules and global standards within the framework of free trade negotiations can also help achieve “a sustainable Europe in a sustainable world”. According to the Commission, the rule of law and promoting democracy and fundamental rights provide the bloc with better governance and regulation.