The EU is engaged in a profound and ambitious transition to achieve climate neutrality and sustainability in the next decades. A successful transformation will limit the existential risks of climate change and the environmental crisis. It will also be key to strengthening the EU’s open strategic autonomy, long-term competitiveness, its social economy model and EU global leadership in the new, net-zero economy. To succeed, the EU will need to address several challenges. This will require making choices that will affect our societies and economies at unmatched pace and scale. The Communication builds on the Joint Research Centre’s Science for Policy Report: Towards a fair and sustainable Europe 2050: Social and economic choices in sustainability transitions
Overcoming key social and economic challenges
|The rise of geopolitics and reconfiguration of globalization: a changing geopolitical landscape will challenge international cooperation on global issues, such as climate change or the energy transition;|
The quest for a sustainable economy and wellbeing: the current economic model will require transformative changes to ensure its sustainability and the wellbeing of Europeans;
The increasing pressure to ensure sufficient private and public funding for sustainability: the availability of funding is challenged by broadening strategic policy priorities, demographic change and the economic transformation;
Growing demand for skills and competencies for the sustainable future: the availability of workers equipped with appropriate technical and soft skills will be crucial for the EU’s competitiveness;
Increasing cracks in social cohesion: eroding social cohesion will threaten trust in governments and the viability of the transitions;
Threats to democracy and existing social contract: democracy is increasingly challenged as the main form of governance to deal with growing socio-economic issues, while the existing social contract is not fully fit for the new socio-economic reality.
Key areas for action
To succeed in the transition, it will be essential to strengthen the links and develop synergy between the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability. That is why the report identifies areas where policy initiative is needed to ensure that the sustainability transition will remain focused on people’s wellbeing and progress:
- Develop a new European social contract. With renewed welfare policies and a focus on high-quality social services.
- Deepen the Single Market to champion a net zero economy. With a focus on open strategic autonomy and economic security.
- Boost the EU’s offer on the global stage to strengthen cooperation with key partners.
- Support shifts in production and consumption towards sustainability, targeting regulation and fostering balanced lifestyles.
- Moving towards a “Europe of investments”. Through public action to catalyze financial flows for the transitions.
- Make public budgets fit for sustainability, through an efficient tax framework and public spending.
- Further, shift policy and economic indicators towards sustainable and inclusive wellbeing, including adjusting GDP for different factors.
- Ensure that all European can contribute to the transition, by increasing labour market participation and focusing on future skills.
- Strengthen democracy with generational fairness at the heart of policymaking, to reinforce the support for the transitions.
- Complement civil protection with civil prevention, by reinforcing the EU’s toolbox on preparedness and response.
Sustainability and wellbeing at the heart of Europe’s Open Strategic Autonomy’