Renewable Matter # 26 / March-April

Europe on the Edge

by Emanuele Bompan

Europe is facing an important challenge with the upcoming elections on 23rd-26th May. It will involve reforms in the Parliament and the European Commission according to the political vision of European citizens, thus giving the Union a new form.

Polls in early March told a story of ultra-nationalist, sovereigntist and even openly neo-fascist parties gathering widespread political support. From the Visegràd Group to Lega Nord in Italy, from JarosÅ�aw KaczyÅ�ski’s Law and Justice party to Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (formerly Front National), there is a cross-European axis of those who are against immigration, innovation, circular economy, gender equality and environmental sustainability, and it is gaining support.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a new political campaign launched by the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, alongside newly elected congresswoman AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and based around a Green New Deal, was able to consolidate Democratic consensus on the left, paving the way for the debate going into the 2020 Presidential Election. At the heart of the proposal is the decarbonisation of the economy, aiming for 100% of energy from renewable sources, the promotion of increased efficiency and circular economy, heavy investment in public infrastructure for transport, as well as generating new jobs and a better system of labour protections (which are currently lacking). How will this transition be financed? Firstly, by taxing the super-rich, with a 70% rate on income above 10 million dollars. In other words, a mix of liberal market action, consolidated environmental policies and openly and proudly socialist politics, resurgent in the current US social context.

 

 

Could the Green New Deal be the last chance for salvation from the advance of a less united, less eco-friendly, less interconnected Europe? Renewable Matter, from its own vantage point, believes that this could indeed be the case. A European Green New Deal, uniting democrats, Greens parties, left-wing forces of the GUE/NGL, the emerging pan-European party Volt, and even the moderate liberal population that understands the urgent, absolute and fundamental need to address climate change and social issues in Europe during the next decade. The risk is that Europe is left in the hands of a legion of Trump clones, equally idiotic (imagine Geert Wilders on the Labour Commission) and potentially dangerous. The first Trump presidency has slowed the global decarbonisation process. We cannot afford another setback.

What can be done, therefore, to enact a European Green New Deal that unites all forces in the EU that are animated by an environmentalist and socially equitable spirit, by human rights and by innovative labour policies that would advance the Union as a pioneer of green jobs, decarbonisation, social inclusion, environmental and infrastructural security, regenerative agricultural policies, sustainable mobility, research and education? What could the recipe be? A solid, detailed plan needs to be defined, one that is founded on intellectual debate. The necessary funds will have to be raised, perhaps by creating a formidable grassroots funding machine, supported by the world of NGOs and associations. The campaign and conventions need to be organised in smaller, local realities, rather than exclusively in capitals and large cities. A solid media campaign, accompanied by strong social media presence, is essential to circumvent the wilful disregard for environmental issues by mainstream media. A programme worthy of the name has to back up this campaign, supported by adequate economic resources. In Europe, there is no consensus-building apparatus that is comparable to the one created by the Sunrise Movement in the United States. The moment has come to build one. 

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