The EU has long been considered a frontrunner in the field of climate and environment policy. In that perspective, the European Green Deal, a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aspiration of making Europe climate neutral in 2050, aims for the EU transition to a climate neutral, modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy as well as a fair and prosperous society. The Green Deal is a roadmap which includes complementary steps and initiatives which will nudge the Member States, stakeholders and citizens in coordinating their actions faster and more efficiently.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the social norms and the usual steps included in the Green Deal. It started as a health crisis, but it has rapidly transformed into an economic one. According to the World Economic Forum, the recession in the Eurozone is assessed at 8.7% for the year 2020. For Greece, the same assessment is 8-9.9%. Until now, the crisis has led to a steep increase in unemployment numbers, a fall in growth-enhancing investment and higher public debt.
Against this background, the Next Generation EU (NGEU) was launched at a European level. This Initiative will enable the European Commission to raise up to €750bn from the financial markets to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The entire package has been negotiated with the EU’s next seven-year budget (2021-2027) in mind. It will be worth at least €1,074 billion.
Within the framework of the NGEU, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which consists of large-scale financial support to both public investments and reforms (notably in green and digital), will support the Member States in their economic recovery while respecting their pledges under the EU Green Deal. To access funding stemming from this Facility, the Member States will have to draft National Recovery and Resilience Plans, which will have to be in line with their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) and European Semester Country recommendations. These Plans present a unique opportunity to make energy renovation of buildings, along with the recyclability of materials (according to the new Circular Economy Action Plan) and other green investments, central to the EU Member States recovery strategies.
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