What is the Green New Deal

We need a real European "Green New Deal"

The German EU Council Presidency was under pressure from the start to fight the economic consequences of the corona pandemic. Against this background, the most extensive budget and financial package in the history of the EU was adopted in Brussels last week after a marathon meeting of the European Council.

It comprises 1,074 billion euros for the EU's seven-year budget until 2027 and 750 billion euros for a corona recovery program, which aims to cope with the pandemic-induced economic slump through economic stimulus and investment aid.

However, the rebuilding program is criticized for the fact that even the enormous sum of 750 billion euros will not be enough to compensate for the forecast economic slump in Europe. In addition, the economy has not collapsed equally severely in all countries and therefore the 750 billion program cannot prevent the gap between poor and rich EU countries from widening further.

In addition, the climate and environmental protection criteria remain vague. Organizations such as Deutsche Umwelthilfe have therefore come to the conclusion that the negotiated resolutions are "a setback for the climate". "The goals for environmental and climate protection envisaged in this compromise are too weak and will not be sufficient to effectively combat global warming and the extinction of species," states the Environmental Aid.

Nothing can be expected from the new EU budget

The EU budget looks similarly bleak. During the negotiations, under pressure from the so-called "Sparsamen Vier" - the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark - cuts were made not only in the areas of research and digitization, but also in terms of climate protection. The European Parliament then refused to approve the deal.

But even if these cuts could be reversed, the volume is far too small, as researchers from the Agora Energiewende think tank have made clear. The goal of allocating 30 percent of the budget to "green" spending will simply not be enough to achieve the Paris climate targets.

Finally, it is questionable whether the 30 percent target will be achieved at all. The European Court of Auditors, which controls the EU institutions as an independent body, recently exposed the amount of "green" expenditure by the European Commission in the last EU budget as creative accounting.

Against the background of the consequences of the corona crisis to be dealt with, it is also to be feared that the Green Deal by Commission head Ursula von der Leyen will tend to be a "minimum green compromise". The European Green Deal of the EU Commission provides for investments of one trillion euros by 2030, which - measured in terms of public spending on bank bailouts - is a comparatively small amount for saving the climate.

Pure trometer

Reiner Trometer is a member of the pan-European democracy movement Diem 25 and supports the political campaign for the Green New Deal for Europe.

At the same time, it is unclear what will become of the EU Commission's climate targets - especially since the Christian Democratic EPP Group is calling for the Commission to "demonstrate that the climate targets can be implemented without harming the economy".

The expected climate policy effects that will result from the EU budget planning and the reconstruction program as well as from the EU's Green Deal are therefore minor. This applies to both the planned financial framework and the measures to be expected.

On the other hand, there is a legitimate demand not only for a climate policy that is at least 1.5 degrees compatible, but also for a policy that, in its entirety, corresponds to ecological and social criteria.

"Green New Deal for Europe" targets all crises

However, there is a roadmap for such a policy: the Green New Deal for Europe, the German version of which was presented in spring by the pan-European Diem 25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025).

This is a pan-European project that has a fair, democratic and sustainable response to both the corona crisis and the ongoing crises of climate, democracy and social inequality. It was developed by numerous economists, climate scientists and activists from social movements and NGOs.

The program of the proposed Green New Deal for Europe (GNDE) cannot be presented here in its entirety, so only a few key elements:

  • The GNDE stipulates that five percent of Europe's gross domestic product, which is currently around 700 billion euros, will flow into a "Green Public Investment" investment program via green bonds from the European Investment Bank (EIB). In terms of its financial volume, this clearly differs from the reconstruction program and the EU's Green Deal.
    It is an investment in the future that not only aims to reduce emissions, but also to transform the economic system in a socio-ecological manner. It is crucial that the issuing of green bonds by the EIB does not result in any additional tax burdens for employees.
    This is also a major difference to other socio-ecological programs, such as that of the Greens, in which funding is provided through the redeployment of taxes and subsidies.

  • The GNDE is democratic and decentralized in that the decisions about investments within the framework of the "Green Public Investments" program are made by the affected municipalities. Newly established decentralized energy systems - to name one example - are in public hands and are democratically controlled. The profits from these public investments must remain in public hands.

  • The creation of work is at the heart of the GNDE. The proposed investment program will create millions of new green jobs. Associated with this is the safeguarding of high-quality training and further education.
    At this point it also becomes clear that a climate and environmental policy based solely on tax reforms and entrepreneurship cannot be a Green New Deal.

  • The GNDE is directed against increasing social inequality by promoting public investment and thus public wealth for all.

  • The Green New Deal for Europe promotes technological progress with a research program "Green Horizon 2030". As part of this program, new technologies can be developed open-source and in cooperation with other countries, thus promoting the emergence of sustainable economies worldwide.

  • With the large amount - five percent of the gross domestic product annually - that can be invested throughout Europe every year as part of this Green New Deal, it is still possible to achieve the climate goals of Paris by, for example, building millions of climate-neutral houses or renovating them and making them modern Energy and transport systems are built.
    However, these funds also represent important future investments because, for example, investments are made in modern health and education systems and thus the standard of living is secured for society as a whole.

The Green New Deal for Europe calls for democratic decisions in the use of funds, promotes public investments that create public wealth and thus counteract social inequality. He thus represents a departure from the neoliberal politics of the last decades.

If one regards climate change as "the greatest and most far-reaching market failure in world history", as even the former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern described it, this is a long overdue step.