Presented by the Commission in December 2019, the European Green Deal was the Union’s new roadmap guiding the future EU budget. However, the crisis linked to Covid-19 required a political repositioning of European leaders in a context where emergency requires reprioritization. In this case, will the imperatives of managing the health and economic crisis overshadow the Green Deal?
Following the directions taken by Europeans over the last few days, Ursula von der Leyen stated that the Green Deal will henceforth be “our motor for the recovery”. We can only welcome such a green stance in the light of a new economic crisis. In order to implement this new strategy, the Commission plans to make use of several mechanisms: the mechanism to protect EU strategic industries from foreign direct investments – especially the pharmaceutical industries – as well as investment in important projects of common European interest (EPCEI) promoting a more sustainable, inclusive and competitive transformation of European industry.
This strategy follows a series of green funding packages released since the beginning of the health crisis. 1 billion euros was announced in March for two Horizon 2020 calls for proposals focusing on the Green Deal’s priority areas. The prospects for the new Horizon Europe programme are even brighter as 35% of the programme should be devoted to green projects, particularly in the construction, mobility and energy sectors. The other fields have not been neglected, as shown by the investment of 700 million euros by the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the European Structural and Investment Funds (EFSF), in support of agriculture and the bio-economy. Finally, the more flexible rules on the use of EFSI, due to the epidemic, could allow Member States to support their national economies in line with Europe’s green ambitions.
However, the remaining uncertainties regarding the implementation of the European Green Deal must not be overlooked, concerning its objectives – as illustrated by the divisions of the MEPs over carbon neutrality targets – and its funding, as the epidemic has postponed budget negotiations. Moreover, the current position of Member States remains to be determined as not all have submitted their national energy and climate plans. It can be said with certainty that in order to meet its commitments the Union will have to redouble its efforts, particularly in the current context. The Covid-19 epidemic is the opportunity, once again, to remind the Union that the achievement of its environmental objectives will require not only questioning its means of production but also its consumer trends.