The CEIPA debate on the 9th of June 2020 showed that the new EU Green Deal may have hit the spirit of the time and attracted the interest and support of the public. However, the opinions of experts and policy analysts indicate that new policies presented by the EU institutions in the past may have had the unintended side effect of alienating public opinion from the EU and its institutions. This should not happen to the Green Deal, provided that its content and rationale will be communicated widely, persuasively and transparently in the foreseeable future.
It has been noted that public opinion is growing indifferent to the proclamation of new EU policies, as people become more and more convinced that new policies are created to cover up the previous policies, and that this shows the inability of the European institutions to monitor and implement policies which are already in place. General concern has been voiced that the European institutions, in particular the European Commission, are gradually losing their grip over the national governments when it comes to the implementation of widely accepted European norms and policies.
The European Commission should be prepared to clearly define and communicate the Green Deal’s aims and achievements to the wider public, in terms of gains and losses. If it does this then the Green Deal may become a strong policy instrument for the future, linked with the relevant EU financial frameworks and equipped with a consequent monitoring mechanism on the part of the European Commission.
It must be explained to wider public why, in spite of the Green Deal, it appears that the European member states are continuing to generously subsidise the fossil industry, without enough media or public scrutiny. Poland continues subsidising the brown coal mines, Italy’s tax exemptions for the use of diesel are mounting up to 5 billion euros, Greece is subsidising the oil and diesel transport to the islands and overall it is estimated that the EU member states, UK, Switzerland and Norway are providing annual subsidies for the oil and diesel in the transport sector of up to 137 billion euros, through tax exemptions and free carbon dioxide certificates.
Experts seem to agree that a specific EU Green Deal trust fund should be set up in order to create synergies with the private sector and the financial markets. Such a new European trust fund, managed by professional fund managers, with steady and long-term interest rates, could attract private and corporate investors towards clean energy projects. On top of this it could explore and create new synergies between the private investors, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction, ECOFIN, the ECB as well as leading banking institutions. A European Green Deal trust fund could prove to be an important instrument for the transition process from fossil fuels to low carbon emission industries.
The aims and objectives of the Green Deal within the context of the mitigation of climate change are expected to be communicated in a professional, transparent and comprehensible way in order to reach the general public in Europe. It is likely that a high level of public support for the Green Deal, in spite of initial opposition and scepticism from important parts of the private sector, national authorities and certain strata of society, may favourably influence the political leaders in Europe and be the ultimate call for action. Thus, the Green Deal initiative may become a positive foundation for future European policy making, giving the European institutions a chance to regain a part of their lost credibility and influence over public opinion. To achieve this the successes and failures of the European Green Deal must be made visible and tangible for the general public.
The ratification of a European Climate Law, enshrining the EU’s climate neutrality by 2050, the introduction of CO2 emission tax, the establishment of a future European trust fund, the strong mobilisation of all public resources and above all fresh attitudes and the full dedication of the national political leaders in Europe are essential to the success of the European Green Deal.
The full video of the CEIPA Roundtable is below. You can read CEIPA’s report from the event here.