SOTEU : EU Commission must pursue the sustainability of the economic recovery.   

Publish date: September 16, 2020

Aligning the COVID-19 recovery and other EU public funding with its own Sustainable Finance Taxonomy is key. Anything else would, by its own terminology, be causing significant harm.

Today, the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will make her first State of the Union address before the European Parliament in Brussels (09:00 CEST). The speech will focus on the COVID19 European recovery, the European Green Deal and the Digital Strategy, identified as key policies to relaunching the European economy. 

Learning from the COVID19 crisis, green groups have asked that the EU Commission’s actions pursue the sustainability of the economic recovery. 

“A decade ago, we already had solutions and technology available that could bring us to net zero. We failed to invest – we failed to provide the framework. Every year since has rendered that goal more challenging and expensive to achieve. If the EU now simply sets a 2050 net zero target, yet pretend we can keep investing in emission-intensive activity just a little while longer, we make it unattainable. We trust President von der Leyen will now match her goals with action: align COVID-19 recovery and other EU public funding with its own Sustainable Finance Taxonomy. Anything else would, by its own terminology, be causing significant harm,” said Jonas Helseth, Director at Bellona Europa.

The so-called “twin ecological and digital transitions” were present again in Presindet von der Leyen’s speech as they were in the Industrial Strategy the Commission presented earlier this year. The two are certainly not identical twins, nor were they born at the same time but one does enable the other – more specifically, the steady and fast move towards a net-zero economy in the EU enables clean digitalisation to occur here. The EU can set sustainability standards across the world on topics such as raw materials, clean energy and zero emissions cloud platforms but first it must show its leadership on the climate front by already reducing emissions and deploying innovation in the EU.

“The new EU budget cut research and development; however, the target discussions require research, development and deployment of climate technology. If anything, the Next Generation budget needs to reflect that, otherwise our higher target pledges lack backup and credibility,” said Suzana Carp, Political Strategy Director at Bellona Europa 

Just a day before the state of the Union speech, on September 15th, the European Commission presented its long awaited review of the 2030 climate targets for the EU, initially due by the spring of 2020 and recommended a target of –55% by 2030, proposing a whole overhaul of the EU climate policy architecture. However, in a vote last week, the European Parliament ENVI Committee gave a signal that the EU climate target should be drawn in line with the science and not with political mandates.

“It is welcomed that the European Commission is proposing a higher target than the one from over a year ago, but this calls for a need to make sure that at least the spending goes towards the acceleration of climate action, so that we can walk the extra mile on climate ambition now, reducing emissions before 2025. If we call it the Next Generation EU then it should all go in the direction of creating the next generation sectors, the next generation climate friendly and resilient economy and the next generation jobs,” said Suzana Carp, Political Strategy Director at Bellona Europa.