European beautiful future: facing complex global challenges

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The European Pact for the Future suggested by the European Environmental Bureau, EEB is a recent initiative aimed at driving fundamental changes in the existing political-economy’s patterns. The general Pact’s goal is “a green and social deal for a one-planet economy”, as postulated in the EEB’s leaflet. This September, world leaders will convene at the UN to adopt the Pact for the Future, which will include a Global Digital Compact and a Declaration on Future Generations as annexes.

The European Pact for the Future fosters hope and courage, opens opportunities, creates well-being for all, catalyses competitiveness through sustainability and drives the needed transformative system change for a sustainable future. The Pact for the Future represents a new social and environmental deal for a one-planet economy that ensures a just transition for all and a better world for generations to come. In this way, the EEB intends to shape with the present actions the course of history: the new political mandate in the EU to be adopted by the end of 2024, is supposed to provide for a European-wide ambitious sustainable agenda to guide the next 5-year EU socio-economic and legislative cycles. The Pact shall be “a beacon of hope” that supports the citizens, communities, businesses and governance drive in leading a just transition towards a future within the boundaries of the one healthy planet.
Note. European Environmental Bureau invites to sign the Pact and in this way vote for a truly sustainable future.
Source: https://euelections.eeb.org/?mc_cid=6bdb433df4&mc_eid=97603c39a6

Background
The intertwined climate, biodiversity and pollution crises are reshaping the world and widening global divides: poverty, inequalities and increasing cost-of-living are not only fueling social unrest; these factors ignite disinformation campaigns and jeopardize European democracy. The EEB’s intention underscores the urgent need for action and overcoming despair and/or even resignation from some national governance.
Transitioning to renewable energies, sustainable farming, and circular product development will create millions of high-quality jobs: on the contrary, fair taxes, decent wages, affordable housing and accessible healthy food will improve peoples’ lives. This transition also builds trust, spurs innovation and ensures future prosperity in harmony with the planet. Thus, European strength lies in its progressive values: for example, recent EU-wide “green deal” is a strong start in the right direction: but the member states must go further to make Europe a global leader in sustainability.
More on “green deal” in: https://www.integrin.dk/2023/12/05/european-green-deal-and-clean-transition-in-energy-sector/ , as well as in: https://www.integrin.dk/2023/10/20/european-green-deal-concept-and-perspectives/

Towards “Pact for the Future”
Many initiatives aiming to contribute to the agenda for the next Commission’s legislative cycle have been adopted in 2024: e.g. recently the EU institutions were working on the Strategic Agenda, with the “industrial deal” and/or La Hulpe Declaration pushing for a social pillar. However, the environmental dimension is, so far, a missing priority in most of these deals, as well as in the EU leaders’ declarations and the next Commission’s College.
Without doubt, the EU will achieve its green targets in order to significantly increase European position as a global environmental leader; besides, the sustainability’s drive would also activate several other EU political and economic priorities, e.g. climate mitigation, social justice, human rights and preventing expected risks. The world needs a perspective “green and social deal” for a planetary-wide progressive political economy with a coherent holistic vision integrating the environmental, social and economic dimensions.
Commitments to the “European Pact for the Future” requires a new social contract for living well within the planet’s ecological limits, as well as recognizing the importance on sustainability in industry and agriculture, reaching the decarbonised goals with toxic-free and safe production, goods and services; additionally, to strengthen governance’s measures in inclusion, preserving national ecosystems and enabling people “to be part of the system’s change”.
Prioritise in green and just transition, climate neutrality, zero pollution and thriving nature shall be included in the next EU political cycle with modernized directions in the Strategic Agenda, the Political Guidelines, the Commission Work Programs and Council Presidency reflections. The commitments to getting the European Green Deal implemented and strengthened by addressing gaps and barriers, engaging citizens, progressive businesses and civil society organisations in multi-stakeholder empowering dialogue platforms, with promoting social, environmental and climate justice shall be all included in the EU-wide priorities.

Main source and reference “European Pact for the Future: https://euelections.eeb.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Online-Pact-for-Future-1.pdf

The European Environmental Bureau, EEB “galvanized” actions with the European Pact for the Future, backed by a dynamic coalition of civil society, sustainable businesses and governments. The Pact sets out 12 demands for the EU member states aimed to inspire hope, unlock opportunities, secure prosperity, promote competitive sustainability and ignite transformative change for a sustainable future.
Two examples from the Pact are showing the expected feasibility of actions.

Example I: “well-being economy”
The present political economy issue in the EU-27 is based on a “consumption” approach: e.g. the member states on average consume more than 14 tons of raw materials per person, which a six percent increase over the past  decade. This unsustainable and irresponsible material footprint underscores the urgent need for measures to address resource use. Shifting from a linear take-make-use-dispose model to a genuine circular economy offers a multitude of benefits: it will help preserve resources, reduce costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen resilience to price volatility and supply-chain disruptions, as well as avoid the emergence of highly destructive and exploitative practices like deep-sea mining.
Despite these clear benefits, the circular material use rate in the EU has essentially been stagnating over the last decade (11.5% in 2022, less than a one percentage point increase since 2010). This demonstrates the substantial untapped potential and, hence, the opportunities for a more decisive shift towards a circular economy that aligns resource consumption with planetary boundaries.
The “European Pact” suggests a fast-track uptake of circular economy’s practices by setting EU-wide binding targets to reduce resource use and material footprint in line with planetary boundaries. The task is to develop and implement measures to preserve resources, activating efforts towards impactful targets set for energy and emissions reductions in climate initiatives. The pact calls for reducing resource use to 5 tons per year per capita by 2050, aligning with the latest research on sustainable consumption levels.
The idea of embracing comprehensive transition agenda centered on concepts of “well-being economy and healthy people” requires “modernizing” the European Semester, use of well-being indicators to go beyond the sustainability-blind GDP to measure progress, and integrate wider well-being needs, e.g. as care-centered transformation. Additional trend is to promote business models that do not rely on shareholder value and profit maximization; instead, to emphasize the crucial role that ecosystems play in fostering prosperity as well as recognize the liabilities generated by pollution.

Example II: investment and taxation issues
The ecological, economic, and societal transformation can only take place with sufficient funding and comprehensive reform of the system of incentives in our economies. To give all Europeans a chance to be part of the green transition, the EU needs a game-changing green and social investment plan as part of a permanent EU transformation fund.
The ultimate task for the states is, among other things, to commit to a Social and Green Investment Plan for the Green Deal transition with most participating partners: governance, social and businesses. Besides, it is necessary to radically increase public climate, environment, social and infrastructure investments while aligning public procurement and private investments, as well as ensuring polluters taking responsibility and holding accountable.
This plan should leverage an overhauled EU multiannual financial framework and NextGenerationEU, unlocking over € 1 trillion by 2030 towards a more autonomous and fully sustainable Europe, including smart grid investments to enable renewables integration, streamline funding for nature restoration and demand side benefits and solidarity among the member states.
The plan’s adoption require a deep reform of EU fiscal rules to ensure that all EU states “have fiscal space for green investments”; e.g. the EU should replace the existing Stability and Growth Pact, which is based on an indiscriminate economic growth paradigm, with a Sustainability and Wellbeing Pact to provide a better compass.
It is as well necessary to activate an ambitious “Ocean Deal” to create policy coherence and bring the just transition to the accelerating blue economy, allowing recovery of marine ecosystems and supporting coastal communities (being supported by a substantial ocean fund”.
Additionally, the member states shall be committed to “fair and progressive taxation and pricing”, reflecting social justice (closing tax loopholes for the rich and launching an EU wealth tax), responsibility (taxing fossil fuel windfall profits, financial transaction tax), the need for additional sources of funding for the transition, as well as applying the polluter pays principle (followed by proportionate and/or dissuasive fees and fines for non-compliance).
The plan includes efforts to mobilise green and circular taxes together with other economic instruments and fees to increase the price of pollution, environmental damage and resource use. These will correct market distortions, discourage harmful practices (over-extraction and wasteful resource use) and reconcile consumption with planetary boundaries while scaling up a genuinely circular and resilient economy (encouraging prevention, repair, reuse and use of secondary raw materials).
All that shall be combined this with due redistribution mechanisms to guarantee equitable outcomes (e.g. ensure the ETS revenues for the Social Climate Fund and that these funds aimed to assist poor households) in order to activate transition to carbon neutral and zero pollution economies.

Bottom line
The triple European and the global climate-biodiversity-pollution crisis transcend the national as well as partisan lines and will require urgent actions in all governance systems. Recent EP’s elections have transformed the political guidance of the European legislative institutions in dealing with the most serious challenges and problems facing European citizens. Thus, the EU is still facing the “ballooning emergency” of climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and pollution: this ‘triple crisis’ threatens the foundations of existing national political economies’ patterns: e.g. Europe is the world’s fastest-warming continent, while biodiversity is at an all-time low and pollution levels pose an existential threat to ecosystems, communities and health.
During last five-year’s Commission’s mandate, the EU institutions have made several positive steps to reconcile the member states’ economies to cope with the global bio-physical and natural limits; the EP’s voters supported the EU-wide course towards advances along combined social-environmental policies.
The EU is also taking steps in bilateral (e.g. EU-Australia) digital cooperation: in mid-June 2024, an agreement was signed to support the EU and Australian e-Safety Commission towards online platforms, respectively with help of the EU’s DSA and Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021. The cooperation covers areas such as transparency and accountability of online platforms, risk assessment and mitigation particularly as regards illegal content, algorithms and artificial intelligence, as well as measures like age-appropriate design and age verification to protect minors online. It will be carried out through information exchanges, including expert dialogues, joint training of technical staff and sharing of best practices.

Source: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/news/commission-services-sign-administrative-arrangement-australian-esafety-commissioner-support?pk_source=ec_newsroom&pk_medium=email&pk_campaign=Shaping%20Europe%E2%80%99s%20Digital%20Future

Finally, the European initiative is an integral part of the world-wide intention “to construct” a beautiful future: in September 2024, the world leaders will convene at the United Nations’ headquarters to adopt the Pact for the Future, which will include a Global Digital Compact and a Declaration on Future Generations as annexes.

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