The European Green Deal

In “A European Green Deal”

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On 11 December 2019, the Commission presented a communication (COM(2019)640) on the European Green Deal that sets out a detailed vision to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, safeguard biodiversity, establish a circular economy and eliminate pollution, while boosting the competitiveness of European industry and ensuring a just transition for the regions and workers affected. Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans is in charge of leading and coordinating the work on the European Green Deal.

Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, pledged to put forward the proposals for the European Green Deal within the first 100 days of the Commission's mandate, including a new 'European Climate Law' (see separate file) that sets a climate-neutrality target for 2050.

A new European Climate Pact (see separate file) should bring together regional and local authorities, civil society, industry and schools to agree on commitments to change behaviour. Tax policies should be reformed in line with climate ambitions, which includes work on a carbon border tax and a review of the Energy Taxation Directive.

The European Green Deal would be aligned with a new industrial strategy (see separate file) to make the EU a world leader in the circular economy and clean technologies, and to decarbonise energy-intensive industries. An new EU strategy on adaptation to climate change was adopted in February 2021 (see separate file).

The Commission also aims for more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets, both in the EU and internationally. The Commission President has pledged to put forward a comprehensive, responsible plan to increase the European Union's emissions reduction target for 2030, from 40 % to 55 % (see separate file "2030 climate target plan"). The target of at least 55 % emissions reduction by 2030 was endorsed by the December 2020 European Council. On 18 December 2020, the EU submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, based on the target endorsed by the European Council. On 14 July 2021, the Commission presented the 'Fit for 55' package of legislative proposals to align EU energy and climate legislation with the 55 % target.

A new Circular Economy Action Plan (see separate file) would promote the sustainable use of resources, especially in resource-intensive sectors with high environmental impact, such as textiles and construction. Europe should lead on the issue of single-use plastics, and extend the fight against plastic waste to micro-plastics.

Another key objective is mainstreaming biodiversity across all policy areas and a Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (see separate file). Europe should lead the world at the 2020 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Further elements of the European Green Deal include the EU’s zero-pollution ambition to safeguard citizens' health, a ‘renovation wave’ for the building sector, and a new 'Farm to Fork' strategy for sustainable food (see separate file).

According to the guidelines, record amounts of public funds should be invested in advanced research and innovation, complemented by a strategy for green financing. Parts of the European Investment Bank should become Europe's climate bank. In January 2020, the Commission presented a communication on the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan (also known as European Green Deal Investment Plan) that aims to increase funding for the transition by mobilising €1 trillion for sustainable investment over the next decade through the EU budget and associated instruments like InvestEU; create an enabling framework for sustainable investment; and support the identification, structuring and execution of sustainable projects (see separate file).

At the same time, the Commission presented a legislative proposal for a new Just Transition Fund (see separate file) to support the people and regions most affected by the low-carbon transition. The new fund is part of a just transition mechanism that cuts across different funds and financing instruments and should mobilise at least €100 billion in public and private investment.

The European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2020 on the European Green Deal advocates a fundamental right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and to a stable climate for all people living in Europe. It makes proposals for the revision of existing EU legislation and suggests new initiatives, such as a green EU single market to boost the demand for sustainable products, with transparent and harmonised product information and labelling to help consumers make healthy and sustainable choices.

The European Parliament resolution of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences calls for a massive post-crisis recovery and reconstruction package centred around the European Green Deal and the digital transformation in order to kick-start the economy, improve its resilience and create jobs while at the same time supporting the ecological transition and the EU objective of climate neutrality.

In the 2020 State of the Union address, President von der Leyen announced the EU emission reduction target for 2030 and a target of spending 37 % of the NextGenerationEU recovery fund on Green Deal objectives. The Commission’s RePowerEU initiative, presented on 18 May 2022, seeks to diversify gas supplies and accelerate the transition to clean energy, in order to end the EU’s overdependance on gas imports from Russia. In the September 2023 State of the Union address, President von der Leyen stressed the EU's commitment to support every sector of European industry in the green transition and hold 'clean transition dialogues' with industry. In February 2024, the Commission published a communication and impact assessment on a 2040 climate target, recommending a net greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 90%, relative to 1990 (see separate file). 


Further reading:

Author: Gregor Erbach, Members' Research Service,

Visit the European Parliament pages on climate change and Europe’s one trillion climate finance plan.

As of 20/05/2024.