GNDE –Civil Society
We have been asked to give more details about the GNDE which we introduced in February’s newsletter . There are summaries in a number of European languages but we recommend reading the original text in English in its entirety. We recommend this because we are seeing a proliferation of calls from civil society that deal with the issue in a partial or sectoral manner. When they do approach it in a holistic manner (see for example the excellent Campaign in 7 points “Return to the Future” by FFF-Italy ) they repeat analyses and proposals already present in the GNDE. We are therefore calling on everyone to open up and come together on the same path, avoiding the usual dispersal into different tracks.
Respecting the need to face the overlapping crises in their entirety, the GNDE speaks of Green Public Works. As happened with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the State that has to intervene and impose rules to protect social cohesion and the environment. The State and the EU – on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity – can impose rules and laws and make sure they are observed. This is why we need an institution like the Commission for Environmental Justice capable of acting throughout the whole of Europe.
GNE – European Commission
Frans Timmermans, the EC Commissioner responsible for the GDE, had a meeting with the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament on 21 April. His words are important because they illustrate how the European Commission wants to implement the Green Deal for Europe.
Many of the points raised in his intervention are present in almost all the EC high representative’s speeches of the last few weeks: the COVID19 crisis and ecological crisis must be faced together; a green recovery is possible in the EU; there is the need for a substantial green investment capacity to create a new green sustainable economy; the GDE is the way to give Europe a growth strategy that is a winning strategy that is also valid globally.
In addition, he mentioned his agreement on the creation of a Green Alliance with ‘180 Ministers, MEP, NGO’s, trade unions, many in the private sector. And it is possible, in the very short run, to design a plan – a green one – that delivers quickly in terms of jobs and economic growth.‘
Wonderful stuff, no? We have some doubts; we perceive the risk of considering only the solutions indicated in the speech. They all refer to the past way of living and proposing technical solutions like solar panels, home insulation, harvesting more sustainably, cleaner cars or even zero-emission ones, industries adopting the circular economy, etc. All positive steps, but they all seek to return to the previous situation in which “our house will continue to burn”, as Fridays For Future reminded us.
It is not acceptable that to “deliver quick wins, for jobs and for health”, we have to come back to even more cars, more privatisation, a bigger gulf between the richest and the poorest. Moreover, an EU Climate Law with the 2050 deadline as an “aim for Europe to become climate neutral by 2050” is not a responsible target for the younger generations.
It is not the time to look for the usual “lowest European common denominator”, but “Per aspera ad astra” (“through difficulties to the stars”).
Suggestions for changing behaviour
The Peace Corps is a volunteering organisation created in 1961 by the US government – at the start of the presidency of John F Kennedy – to intervene in developing countries. Erasmus is the initiative that allows European university students to continue their studies in other EU member states.
Why do we mention them? Because we have reached the moment for the creation of a European programme to recruit and reward young volunteers in every Member State of the EU. To do what? Everything that young people have shown themselves capable of in this moment of crisis: solidarity, unselfishness, sacrifice, with the sole aim of making themselves useful.
We would add to this proposal another one, for an obligatory civilian service, paid for out of public funds, to work in the farming sector to support small and medium farmers. The “conscripts” would come into contact with the rural world and learn the value of food production, an activity they would be able to resume whenever they needed to. It would put them in touch with values, knowledge and flavours that would otherwise increasingly be lost. At the same time this would lead to a revaluing of farming and a challenge to the horrible system of gang labour.