THE EUROPEAN UNION BECOMES A DRIVER FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN EUROPE AND BEYOND
Why and how?
In a scenario where sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project,the EU27 will prioritise the interests of citizens, in the EU and beyond. Europe will have a strong focus on Europe’s core social values – democracy and participation, social justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law and human rights, both within Europe and around the globe.
Citizens seek economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Economic wellbeing in the form of prosperity for all, starting with redistribution of wealth. Social wellbeing in the provision of quality, inclusive and affordable public services, the promotion of cultural diversity and a caring society. Environmental wellbeing residing in a healthy natural environment that sustains all life on Earth and protects our soils, waters and air, provides nutritious, healthy food and where climate change is minimized.
As a result of this focus, the EU27 will ensure a better health and quality of life for its citizens. This will increase public trust in European institutions. It will move away from the current focus where commercial and corporate interests are all too often prioritized over the public interest. Decisions are made in the public interest and transparent, accountable and inclusive institutions will be the norm.
The EU27 will ensure that policies agreed by the Member States are fully implemented and enforced. Scandals like Dieselgate, which caused tens of thousands of premature deaths, will not be repeated.
By 2025, this means:
Delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the principles and Sustainable Development Goals: leaving no one behind, living within Europe’s fair share of our planetary boundaries, and putting respect for human rights at the core of EU and national policy-making.
The full implementation of the Paris Agreement by decarbonising our economy, enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the just and sustainable transition to clean and affordable renewable energy, based on the principles of climate justice, in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
The notion of ‘Better Regulation’ implies that all EU policies, laws and regulations are focused on ensuring policy coherence for sustainable development and on enforcement of high standards for jobs, health, safety and the environment, delivering tangible benefits to all citizens and the regeneration of environmental capital. Policy coherence as a key objective will result in an end to negative externalities of domestic policies for the Global South and the phasing out of perverse public subsidies, especially for unsustainable food production and fossil fuels.
Companies and their subsidiaries outside the EU and throughout their supply chains are under a legal obligation to assess, mitigate and prevent negative environmental and human rights impacts of their business activities globally.
International trade is recognised as a means to achieve social, environmental and economic objectives, not an end in itself. A positive agenda for trade and investment agreements will be designed primarily to advance wellbeing and the public interest instead of cost reduction for companies. Europe will raise the bar for all other regions and actively discourage a race to the bottom.
Through strengthening representative and participatory democracy and ensuring civic space for people’s participation beyond elections, citizens can better engage with the European project and shape a positive European vision for the future.
The EU27 and the Member States will consider education as a public responsibility that offers lifelong learning for all in order to develop active citizenship, critical thinking, social inclusion, cultural diversity and an understanding of sustainable development and human rights.
Gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights will be priority in all EU policies and practices, both domestically and externally
A just transition to a green and socially fair economy, in which our human and natural resources are cherished, within the planetary boundaries.
A European Social Model provides full protection to all workers, all consumers and all generations of people living in the EU.
Effective and coordinated taxation measures ensure that all companies pay appropriate taxes and contribute to national public budgets for socio-economic wellbeing. The EU27 will effectively fight tax evasion and close down European tax havens.
Pros and cons:
Europe reinvents itself and better communicates the benefits, rights and protections it delivers to citizens. Acceptance of and trust in European institutions will increase as citizens experience the benefits of European cooperation.
Policy silos are dismantled, incoherencies and contradictions are resolved. All policies and programmes are contributing to the sustainable development agenda.
IMPACT ON POLICIES
Capacity to address citizens’ concerns and democratisation
The EU27 will introduce new methods to increase the influence of citizens and civil society on key European policy issues and give them a bigger role in EU decision making, to strengthen transparency, participation and accountability.
Climate and a healthy environment
Common standards are set that bring citizens clean air and water, renewable and community based energy, safe and healthy food. Ambitious measures to phase out fossil fuels and the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, including from the Global South, are implemented, leading to a fair share (sufficiency) in the use of natural resources.
Social and inclusive policies
All European citizens and residents enjoy the same level of protection, based on international human rights. Income gaps are narrowed, equality goals are achieved, wellbeing is improved and health disparities decrease within and between countries and across generations.
Trade policies become more transparent and contribute to the achievement of social and environmental objectives, including global climate agreements, the protection of the health and well-being of citizens, and are consistent with fundamental rights.
Foreign policy, migration and international cooperation
Europe assumes a leading role in ensuring a human-centered response to global migration, for the benefit and protection of all those involved. It contributes its fair share, both as a donor and as host for refugees, ensuring equal and fair access to services for all.
The EU continues to be a key donor to implement its commitments to the protection of human rights in its international cooperation. The EU actively supports binding rules on human rights for its businesses that are operating overseas.
The EU Budget lives up to its potential to catalyse sustainability, economic justice and wellbeing, to maintain and restore our natural resources and biodiversity. It includes participatory spending tools as well as strong accountability mechanisms. In other words, there will be a budget for the people.
More progressive tax policies and a tax shift from labour to environmental use.
Trade, regional development and food policies incentivise local, national and regional governments to develop sustainable and locally distributed energy and food production systems: local production for local needs. International trade prioritises sustainability principles.
An EU Enforcement Agency monitors the implementation of EU laws and quickly responds if needed. Amongst other tasks, this body actively monitors emissions from a wide range of products (cars, household appliances, etc.) for conformity with the agreed standards and applies effective sanctions in case of breaches of the regulations.
EU budget and indicators: a new definition for economic progress in the EU is published regularly which goes beyond reliance on GDP and guides and measures impact of spending on the sustainable wellbeing of all citizens and their environment. All spending lines are fully sustainability- proofed, resulting in more targeted spending, and greater linking of resources with performance of Member States and regions in achieving the EU’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
Energy, climate and social policies: the EU27 introduces a fund to make 50 million houses in Europe energy neutral, thereby lowering living costs for citizens, stopping energy poverty and drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
New and effective civil society participation improves democracy, governance transparency and trust of EU citizens in building a positive and sustainable Europe.
Europeans consume healthier food produced by reformed European agricultural systems and they enjoy widely restored European nature and increasing green spaces in the cities.
Europe’s ecosystems are sufficiently protected and restored to deliver socio, economic and health benefits. Nature based solutions are at the center of Europe’s development.
Free movement: the EU guarantees effective free movement to all people living in Europe.
EU accessibility legislation will be adopted to ensure the 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe who currently cannot use mainstreamed products and services can participate on an equal basis with others as consumers in the internal market.
Brussels, June 2017