Three overlapping crises
We are facing three overlapping crises in Europe. The first and most obvious one is the climate and environmental crisis. Mass extinction and extreme weather conditions are no longer distant from us. On the contrary, we experience them every day. Significant parts of the planet could become uninhabitable within our lifetime. Massive emission of greenhouse gases pushes the planetary climate closer and closer to dangerous tipping points. Soil degradation and extreme weather events threaten the global food supply.
But we also see an economic and social crisis. The top 10% of households own half of the continent's wealth, whereas the bottom 40% only hold 3% of the wealth. One out of four EU citizens is at the risk of poverty and social exclusion and businesses of all sizes as well as households suffer from skyrocketing energy prices, disrupted supply chains and the resulting price level hikes. Furthermore, the increasing fragility of our international security system reveals economic vulnerabilities that came with the global division of work and the growing interconnectedness of the world economy.
Last but not least, there is also a crisis of democracy. Only 42% of EU citizens have trust in the European Union and only 34% in their national government. Many people have the feeling that their needs and concerns are not adequately considered in the political decision making. Against this background, right wing parties have gained ground in previous elections, which has to raise serious concerns.
The crises are intertwined and by design
Most of our current wealth is based on unsustainable extractivism and the exploitation of our planet. Our civilization and our way of living is to a great extent built on the use of fossil fuels. Besides the way our economy works, the distribution of wealth is also closely linked to the environmental crisis. The top 10% of the wealth pyramid are responsible for 49% of all lifestyle consumption emissions. Finally, the rising mistrust in political institutions is a consequence of experienced or anticipated social and economic decline.
Massive investment in a rapid green transition is needed, but fiscal austerity (inscribed in the EU Treaties) renders sufficient investment almost impossible – net public investment in major member states has been around zero for the last years.
The Comission´s Green Deal is insufficient in terms of size, speed, scale and scope and it leaves intact the basic economic and political architecture that is responsible for the crises at hand.
Our answer: A Green New Deal for Europe
The concept of a Green New Deal is based on the assumption that government money is not a scarce resource in sovereign economies. Instead of this, real resources are scarce and the capacities of our planet are limited. So, instead of basing our policies on what we can 'afford' in a monetary sense, we should focus on how we can build a materially secure, socially just society that does not transgress the ecological boundaries of our planet. Crucial to this approach is the notion that climate protection, social justice, and economic prosperity are not thought of as conflicting goals, but as mutually supportive within a comprehensive political strategy.
"The GNDE concept offers comprehensive options for overcoming the global crisis, i.e. finding a politically, financially and socially feasible way out of the global crisis that is oriented towards the common good."
Financial market expert, Ambassador of the Economy for the Common Good Movement and Former Chairman of the Board of Management of Sparda-Bank München eG
Our vision of a Green New Deal for Europe is based on the so-called "Blueprint for Europe's Just Transition" from the pan-European Movement DiEM25. This Blueprint a broad set of proposals that was developed by a group of scientists and activists from all over Europe. The Blueprint is based on three pillars. The core pillar is a large-scale investment program called Green Public Works (GPW). As the name indicates, GPW includes a public job guarantee and is aimed at tackling involuntary unemployment, inequality and macroeconomic fluctuations in the context of a transition to climate neutrality. Second, the Environmental Union (EnU) is a package of legislation that aligns the EU policy to the scientific consensus about the necessary steps to fight the climate crisis. The third pillar is the so-called Environmental Justice Commission (EJC). This is an independent body for research, monitoring and advice with a special focus on international, intergenerational and intersectional implications of the GND.
We want to give credit to the the authors of the "Blueprint for Europe's Just Transition" and the initiators from DiEM25. The ideas we present here were developed by them and we have great respect for the incredible work that led to the Blueprint. We feel honored to be able to build on the work of all these wonderful people.