Will the European Green New Deal be social?

The much-announced European ‘Green New Deal’ was unveiled by Ursula Von Der Leyen in December, and civil society is mobilising to make sure that environmental objectives do not go to the detriment of the social dimension, in a continent where millions of people live in conditions of energy poverty.

The European Green Deal was published by the Commission and presented to the Parliament’s plenary on 11th December as a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all.


“This is Europe’s man on the moon moment,” Von Der Leyen said, “Our goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet” and “to make it work for our people,” she added, describing climate policy as Europe’s new growth strategy. The Deal provides a roadmap with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution, and mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals into all areas of EU policy. It outlines investments needed and financing tools available, and explains how to ensure a just and inclusive transition.

The Commissions’ Communication mentions energy poverty and commits to guide member states in addressing it: The risk of energy poverty must be addressed for households that cannot afford key energy services to ensure a basic standard of living. Effective programmes, such as financing schemes for households to renovate their houses, can reduce energy bills and help the environment. In 2020, the Commission will produce guidance to assist Member States in addressing the issue of energy poverty.

Meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal will require significant investment, the Commission will present in early 2020 a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to help meet investment needs. At least 25% of the EU’s long-term budget should be dedicated to climate action, and the European Investment Bank, Europe’s climate bank, will provide further support. For the private sector to contribute to financing the green transition, the Commission will present a Green Financing Strategy in 2020. In March 2020, the Commission will launch a ‘Climate Pact’ to give citizens a voice and role in designing new actions, sharing information, launching grassroots activities and show-casing solutions that others can follow.

Civil society is looking at this plan to make sure that environmental objectives don’t undermine social solidarity. On Monday December 9th, FEANTSA, the Fondation Abbé Pierre and the Right to Energy Coalition co-organised an event in the European Parliament to launch the thematic report on energy poverty. The report, drafted by FEANTSA and Fondation Abbé Pierre, looked into the European framework on energy poverty, at national intervention mechanisms supporting households experiencing energy poverty, and renovating the housing stock through financial aids, tax incentives and low-interest loans.

The Right to Energy coalition reiterates its demand for and energy system that puts people and planet before profit, by defining access to affordable and clean energy as a basic human right, by ensuring decent energy-efficient and affordable housing for all, and by promoting energy democracy, developing frameworks where citizens are involved in the decision-making process and can participate in community energy initiatives.

For more information:

Press release: Green deal for Europe: First reactions from MEPs
Press release: The European Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, boosting the economy, improving people’s health and quality of life, caring for nature, and leaving no one behind
Right to energy coalition
FEANTSA, Abbé Pierre Report, Energy poverty: what are the foundations for a green and social pact for Europe? EN FR

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