European Green Deal: a cooperative take

On 11th of December the European Commission revealed the European Green Deal – Europe’s new economic growth strategy which will set climate neutrality into law by 2050. President von der Leyen emphasised that “the deal must work for all citizens, or will not work at all.”

Cooperatives Europe welcomes the strong link to citizens in the communication which mirrors cooperative’s core mission of bridging social and economic aspects with a long-term view. Cooperatives are a real driving force for social, economic and ecological change worldwide and must thus be taken on as key partners in the move towards sustainability in all of its forms while putting people first.

The communication also addresses several specific measures, including:

  • In mobilising industry and economic actors, it is essential that the European Commission considers the impact of such measures on all kinds of enterprises, in order for nobody to be left behind as well as to avoid additional administrative burden for SMEs, including cooperatives. These two last elements must also be ensured by the upcoming SME strategy. It is an opportunity to support innovation in the field where cooperatives offer people-centred and sustainable solutions.
  • On clean energy transition and consumers, the communication rightfully states that the clean energy transition should involve and benefit consumers. This involvement notably goes through educating citizens and enterprises on the changes needed for a successful transition. Schools and training institutions indeed play a role in it, as well as local economic members-based actors such as cooperatives.
  • We commend the European Commission’s pledge to allocate a larger part of its budget to climate-related objectives in its international cooperation and partnership policy, where we hope projects on energy communities and other forms of cooperatives get specific attention.
  • We welcome the Commission’s commitment on pursuing green finance and investment whilst ensuring a just transition for sectors and regions affected. This new measure should allow all types of enterprises to benefit from it, including cooperatives. We hope green public investment will also be encouraged and used as an opportunity for local authorities to partner with community initiatives such as renewable energy cooperatives.

Agnes Mathis, Director of Cooperatives Europe, commented: “The measures of the communication and the calendar are very ambitious.  It is essential to ensure coordination between the related initiatives involving all stakeholders and partners, including cooperatives, which, as natural partners, involve local communities and all sectors in the transition towards a green, sustainable and just economy and society, while putting people first.”

The communication of the European Commission states that the current proposal for the European Green Deal is a starting point and the policies and measures will be updated as the work on climate neutrality begins.

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