EEB Meets the Environment Ministers: New Pact on the Horizon?

Brussels, 15.01.2024 – We would like to express our appreciation for the Belgian Presidency’s emphasis on climate adaptation, circular economy, and the just transition—the latter an area overlooked within the European Green Deal. We believe that the Belgian Presidency bears unique responsibilities in delivering these objectives.

Last year, the Green Deal faced substantial pressures from political forces more interested in short-term gains than the welfare of citizens, society, and the economy. We rely on the Belgian Presidency to withstand such pressures and remain committed to the Green Deal’s objectives, aligning them with the needs of the people. In times of crisis and uncertainty, this steadfastness provides hope and direction, essential for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

While significant progress has been made under the current Green Deal, much work remains. We advocate for at least another five years of focused effort to complete and expand upon the foundations laid thus far. A “New European Pact for the Future” or an “European Green Deal 2” is needed, one that places social justice and solidarity at its core. Citizens and regions must see their daily lives reflected in policies and spending, fostering hope and engagement.

The environmental transition must inherently be a social transition. Addressing inequalities, supporting social justice, and promoting sustainability are paramount. Initiatives such as the Social Climate Fund are steps in the right direction, but much more is required: skills development, training for new green jobs, investment in housing renovation for disadvantaged households, affordable sustainable transportation, tax reform to increase disposable income, and measures across the food chain to encourage sustainable choices.

“Our challenge requires collective action from all levels of government and stakeholders. Together, we can transform climate and ecological anxieties into hope. A transition where no one is left behind is not only possible but imperative. An inclusive transition is essential for our shared future.” – Patrick ten Brink, Secretary General, EEB

Read the “Ten Green Tests” to the Belgian Presidency.

Despite ambitious targets and substantial efforts, the Spanish Presidency delivered mixed results on Green Deal files. Therefore, it is imperative for Belgium to show leadership and make advance on all remaining Green Deal files before the March deadline. This includes completing trilogue negotiations where possible, given the looming risk of a less progressive Parliament following the June elections.  The triple climate, biodiversity and pollution crises spare no delay, and Europe must act urgently to tackle these pressing challenges.

Belgium has a unique opportunity to set a progressive vision for the next five years, as well as ensure a constructive legacy for the partners in the Spain-Belgium-Hungary Presidency Trio, running from 1 July 2023 to December 2024. It will also have an opportunity to show leadership on the international stage, with its initiatives on circular economy and water policy during the 6th UN Environment Assembly, and ongoing negotiations for a global treaty to end plastic pollution.

This year was a turning point for the European Green Deal, where hope turned into frustration and deep concern. The next risks becoming a tipping point—where despondency and fear prevail over need and ambition. But it does not have to be so.

“In 2024 delivering the Green Deal and putting in place a renewed agenda of hope is essential—not just to deliver on promises and address the triple climate, biodiversity and pollution crises, but to embrace the many opportunities for transformative action. The environmental agenda is a health and social agenda, an agenda of security and resilience, and an agenda of opportunity.” – Patrizia Heidegger, Deputy Secretary General & Director for EU Governance, Sustainability and Global Policies, EEB

Notes to editors

Every six months at the rotation of the two EU presidencies, the EEB publishes an assessment of the outgoing Presidency and Ten Green Tests for the incoming presidency.

Read our full Memorandum to the Belgian Presidency here.

Read our assessment of the Spanish Presidency Here.

 

EEB Meets the Environment Ministers: New Pact on the Horizon?
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