154 NGOs signed an open letter with the title “Our sustainable future must start now” clarifying their stance for the strategic agenda 2019-2024. The letter was sent to the Heads of States of Europe before the June Council, which is when the matter was discussed.
The letter was sent out to demand greater efforts in regard to social and environmental challenges. As kids are protesting on the streets, teaching the grown-ups about science, it is about time to act on EU level and “to bring about real and lasting change”. The letter, which was the brainchild of the European Environmental Bureau, the European Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs (CONCORD) and the Platform of European Social NGOs (Social Platform) and supported by COFACE Families Europe, further says: “You must stop looking at the economy merely as a means to create “prosperity” and “competitiveness” and, instead, view it as a tool to promote inclusive, sustainable and just societies that meet the needs of all.”
The outcome of the Council, however, stayed below the expectations of the NGOs. EU leaders have once again failed to commit to good environmental and sustainable goals. The initial target of climate neutrality by 2050 was blocked by four governments, namely Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary.
As this matter requires unanimity among member states, the 2050 deal was not included in the strategic agenda 2019-2024. Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, found it “hard to believe that these four governments, driven by the narrow interests of their polluting industries, succeeded in their opposition to a widely-supported and badly needed increase of the EU’s climate ambition.”