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10th Apr 2021

EU alliance calls for green recovery plan

  • Despite the reticence of some member states, calls for an EU-wide green recovery strategy has gained ground politically (Photo: Pictures of Money)

An alliance of 180 European politicians, business leaders, MEPs and environmental activists urged, on Tuesday (14 April), to increase green investment in the bloc to develop "a new model of prosperity" based on sustainability, the protection of biodiversity, and the transformation of the EU's agri-food system.

"Covid-19 will not make climate change and nature degradation go away [and] we will not win the fight against Covid-19 without a solid economic response," reads the letter, which was led by the initiative of Pascal Canfin, a liberal French MEP who chairs the European Parliament's committee on environment.

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"Political will is here," the letter adds.

Alongside with a dozen EU ministers, the letter was co-signed by MEPs, business associations, the European Trade Union Confederation, NGOs, think tanks, as well as leaders of big companies such as Ikea, H&M, Lego, or Microsoft.

"After the crisis, the time will come to rebuild," their statement reads, calling for green recovery investment packages that can push the transition towards climate neutrality.

"This is not a matter of creating a new economy from scratch. We already have all the tools and many new technologies," it also says.

According to the director of the European branch of NGO World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ester Asin, "the broad support for this statement clearly shows that Europe's response to the Covid-19 crisis must put us firmly on the path to a truly sustainable, climate-neutral and just economy".

Following the last European summit and the agreement of European finance ministers last Thursday, the letter calls for an EU-wide green recovery strategy has gained ground politically.

Despite the resilience of some countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, half of member states have signed a separate open letter urging the EU to ensure its commitment to the Green Deal.

The statement was signed by the environment ministers of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Germany, France and Greece - while Flemish nationalists in Belgium blocked the action at national level.

In this letter, ministers also urged to "withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come".

According to the European Commission, "green investments will be a key driver of the recovery, not an obstacle to it".

"The economic recovery and the transition to a sustainable and climate-neutral economy go hand in hand," the commission told EUobserver.

According to the commission, the recently-announced climate law was, in fact, designed to avoid that climate action is side-lined by more pressing and immediate challenges.

Analysis

Will coronavirus torpedo the Green Deal?

2020 was supposed to be the crunch year in the fightback against climate change. However, the coronavirus pandemic has flattened Europe and beyond, which is likely to slow down international negotiations to fight climate change

Analysis

First 100 days: Digital and Green Deal policies hit by crises

The first 100 days of Ursula von der Leyen's commission were supposed to be about the digital and environmental transitions. However, that agenda has been hit by first the coronavirus, and now the Greek border situation.

How pandemic opens doors to green transport industry

While much of the transport sector is pushing for unconditional state aid and to postpone climate policy action, experts believe that this crisis could help to transform the EU's transportation system, making it more resilient, sustainable and flexible.

Dutch court forces government to cut emissions

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and the environment has said "this is the most important climate change court decision in the world so far, confirming that human rights are jeopardised by the climate emergency."

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