How can the EU achieve a sustainable future?

This week, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organised a hearing on the subject: “Towards a more sustainable Europe – Strategy for long term transition processes”. The debate aims to think how a sustainable Europe can be achieved, especially in the context of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution which has brought digitalisation and new technologies. Different aspects needing full consideration for the transition to a sustainable Europe were stressed: 1) People must be empowered and should be able to shape the future; 2) The future of work must be considered. At this stage, there is no clear consensus on how work will look like in the future given the trends of automatisation and digitalisation. What is more certain however is that work will change profoundly. We therefore need to ensure decent work and wages, decent quality of work and social protection. 3) People must be at the centre of this transition. It also means rethinking our modes of governance by ensuring the participation of all concerned actors, including citizens and civil society organisations. It must be an inclusive process.

Brenda King, the rapporteur of the opinion on “The Transition towards a more sustainable Europe – a strategy for 2015”, concluded that we need policies which are encompassed in a common vision and which follow a bottom up approach.

SDG Watch Europe, of which SOLIDAR is a member, was present at the hearing. In its intervention, SDG Watch stressed: 1) the need for the adoption of an EU integrated overarching strategy covering internal and external affairs to guide the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and achieve sustainable development in Europe and elsewhere; 2) that the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform - as mentioned in the communication “Next steps for a sustainable European future -European action for sustainability” of 22 November 2016- should not only be a space for exchanges of views, but also a place to provide concrete advices to policy-makers (see SDG Watch position paper here).

Finally, through the Progressive Lab for Sustainable Development, SOLIDAR together with FEPS and the S&D group of the European Parliament, is looking at how the EU could contribute to sustainable development through its internal and external policies. Inputs from nine young researchers were collected. The final outcome will be presented with the publication of a book to be launched at the end of May/beginning of June.