History’s most successful peace project faces a critical moment in time. But putting sustainability and the environment at the heart of the EU won't only be good for future generations—it will improve prosperity nowby Linda Zeilina / June 25, 2019 / Leave a comment
The European Union has experienced some interesting times in recent decades. From the migrant crisis to Brexit, events have left the EU looking weaker in an increasingly complex and uncertain world. It has tarnished its global reputation and its soft power.
But the new European Commission and Parliament have a unique opportunity to redefine the EU’s global position and adopt a new identity: as a champion of sustainable growth, with sustainability at the heart of its new strategic agenda.
The timing could not be better. Public awareness of global warming effects such as biodiversity loss is greater than it has ever been. The current focus on impending climate crisis allows the EU to create a strategic agenda around an idea that both sets the EU apart from other powers and enjoys cross-border support amongst its own people.
Climate change is also an emotive issue that unites people across the political spectrum—unlike other policy issues that remain divisive, such as migration or digitalisation. Even among populists, it is very hard to argue against reducing pollution and promoting biodiversity.
And who doesn’t want clean air? Indeed, it is one of President Trump’s more recent boasts—despite evidence to the contrary—that the US has cleaner water and air since he has taken office, demonstrating that is an important issue even for his supporters.
It is even proving to be something that the EU and the UK can agree on, especially now the latter has declared a climate emergency. The situation presents a unique opportunity for the EU to show that it is capable of listening to a country that has opted to leave, that it wishes to pursue an ongoing alliance and that it cares about future cooperation.
A competitive advantage
The EU also has a major competitive advantage when it comes to sustainable growth. It is already seen as a global power that cares about sustainability more than others due to its recent initiatives. For example, the EU’s Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities is a welcome effort to regulate sustainable finance, and something to build on.
In Europe, too, more private sector businesses are prepared for climate change than anywhere else in the world. It has some of the world-leading cities and initiatives in circular…