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Policy brief: Make the EU Greta'gain

By Claire Roumet on 8 March 2019









Claire Roumet, executive director of Energy Cities

As spring is coming closer, you can still hear the sound of the youth protesting in the streets, waiting for us to take action, forcing us to face our own inconsistencies between the rhetoric and actual changes in society. I thought it was time for me to carry out a quick analysis of the gap between fine words and legislative proposals.

And more specifically, an analysis of the gap between current talks around the EU’s long-term strategy, - that we, in the Brussels bubble, call "LTS 2050" - and the budget proposals for the 2021-2027 period, aka MFF - for Multi-annual Financial Framework, but we call it "My Favorite Fraud". These very same budget proposals that will design the investments for the decade to come, the decade when we have to change paths...

What can I say about this analysis? That EU policies are still driven by a strong desire for industrial greatness and European supremacy. That the technological advances we might gain by investing in pipe dreams will be our lifeline in tomorrow’s world! It is no surprise that young generations are sending us packing. This answer falls woefully short of expectations.

One of the famous sayings from renowned Spanish scientist Jorge Wagensberg was "Evolution is about changing answers, revolution is about changing questions". After reading a summary report of the 19 programme proposals that will make up the EU’s expenses for the years to come, I’m afraid we’re not even in an "evolution" phase. There is not even a beginning of a new answer, but rather a shy reallocation of priorities that were set up already a long time ago and have never been revised.

Two of these proposals have already been adopted: €13 billion for nuclear research (cost overruns for developing the Iter - an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject) and €9 billion for further development of artificial intelligence. These two programmes got a consensus from EU leaders. That is the future we are being offered!

In practice, the European Commission’s proposals are seeking to increase investments in the fight against climate change, but without making use of the budget as a tactical tool. We could use the budget for changing production systems, getting into industrial renewal serving locality, developing practical partnerships between rural and urban areas around shared energy and food policies. So many possibilities, so many priorities to be set up!

As regards food sustainability, the excellent report by IPES offers a whole different common agricultural policy based on 3 years of debates and experiments. We, Energy Cities, have defined the basis of our common energy policy starting from the needs expressed by the cities in our network, in the view of building a real strategy for Europe. Our Manifesto provides a list of priority actions for future EU elected representatives and leaders to make this change in society a true opportunity for bringing the European project back to life.

This Manifesto is yours, make good use of it!

The title of this policy brief refers to Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish climate activist.

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