Danube Watch 2/2020 - The European Green Deal: Cultivating a Strong Future

The European Green Deal: Cultivating a Strong Future

The ever-looming threats that climate change and environmental degradation pose to humanity globally cannot be denied or ignored if we are to survive on this planet. New approaches and strategies must be developed and embraced globally. To this end, the European Union is working to transform its economy into something more modern, resource-efficient and competitive. The European Green Deal is the plan to make the EU's economy sustainable.

This EU green economy, as laid out in the European Green Deal, will have no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it will decouple economic growth from resource use, and it will move forward as a united force: bringing every person and place in the EU into the future. This can be done by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities, and by making the transition just and inclusive for all.

Timeline of the European Green Deal
  • 17 September 2020
    Presentation of the 2030 Climate Target Plan
  • 8 July 2020
    Adoption of the EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen to pave the way towards a fully decarbonised, more efficient and interconnected energy sector
  • 20 May 2020
    Presentation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to protect the fragile natural resources on our planet
  • 20 May 2020
    Presentation of the ‘Farm to fork strategy’ to make food systems more sustainable
  • 11 March 2020
    Proposal of a Circular Economy Action Plan focusing on sustainable resource use
  • 10 March 2020
    Adoption of the European Industrial Strategy, a plan for a future-ready economy
  • 4 March 2020
    Proposal for a European climate law to ensure a climate neutral European Union by 2050. Public consultation (open until 17 June 2020) on the European Climate Pact bringing together regions, local communities, civil society, businesses and schools
  • 14 January 2020
    Presentation of the European Green Deal Investment Plan and the Just Transition Mechanism
  • 11 December 2019
    Presentation of the European Green Deal


There are many goals within the EU Green Deal. For example, clean energy will be pursued with the idea of prioritising energy efficiency, developing a power sector based largely on renewable resources, securing an affordable EU energy supply and having a fully integrated, interconnected and digitalised EU energy market. This will be achieved through a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings, and through a legislative proposal to address methane emissions in the energy sector, revision of the regulatory framework for competitive decarbonised gas markets and revision of the Energy Taxation Directive.

Moving toward sustainable industry is also key. Essential points of this policy include boosting the modern aspects of industries, influencing the exploration and creation of “climate neutral” circular-economy friendly goods markets as well as discouraging production of single-use materials. Importantly, this also entails the decarbonisation and modernisation of energy-intensive industrial materials such as steel and cement.

Housing and transportation issues are also addressed. The future of housing is partly set out via a plan for a new "European Bauhaus" – a co-creation platform for architects, engineers and designers aiming to create greener architecture to push down emissions. Transportation will be addressed through revising the Directive on Intelligent Transport Systems and the Directive on Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure as well as changing regulations setting CO2 emission performance standards for cars and light commercial vehicles and legislative proposal on development of post-Euro6/VI emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses.

The ‘From Farm to Fork’ strategy seeks to implement solutions to the issue of food sustainability while supporting farmers and fishermen. The EU will seek to push methods of production and transport of these foodstuffs in a climate-friendly approach, hoping to increase efficiency as well. Set targets include decreasing the use of chemical pesticides, increasing the availability of healthy food options and helping consumers to better understand the health ratings of products and sustainable packaging.


The European Green Deal is not simply high rhetoric or empty words; the Deal provides an action plan which entails boosting the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy as well as restoring biodiversity while also cutting pollution. Furthermore, what investments are needed and where as well as available financing tools are both outlined to provide a clear picture of the journey ahead. It also explains how to ensure a just and inclusive transition: a very important aspect of work to be done.

The EU has set the goal to be climate neutral in 2050. In order to achieve this, and to reflect the seriousness of this goal, a European Climate Law has been proposed. This would turn this political commitment into a legal obligation. That is not to say that this obligation will be imposed without foresight; The EU will also provide financial support and technical assistance to help those that are most affected by the move towards the green economy. This tool is called the Just Transition Mechanism, and It will put at least €100 billion to work over a six-year period from 2021-2027 in the most affected regions.

Public Involvement

Alongside government policies and regulation, there is a role to play for citizens, communities and organisations in all sectors of our society and economy. The European Climate Pact aims to give citizens and stakeholders a voice and role in designing new climate actions, sharing information, launching grass-roots activities and showcasing solutions that others can follow. With climate change impacts already here now, impacting people, the planet and prosperity pervasively, the recovery from the current crisis will be an opportunity to make our society more resilient.

As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission will put forward a comprehensive plan to increase the EU’s 2030 climate target in September this year. The plan will propose to increase the EU’s current 2030 target of at least -40% greenhouse gas emission reductions to at least -50% and towards -55%, compared to 1990 emission levels. The Commission has invited all stakeholders and citizens to submit views on the EU’s 2030 climate ambition increase and the action and policy design necessary for deeper greenhouse gas emission reductions as well as the EU’s new strategy on adaptation to climate change. The input from the open public consultations will be used to shape the Pact ahead of its launch.

ICPDR and Climate Change Initiatives

The aims of the Green New Deal and other environmental aims of the European Union have already been the focus of various projects run in partnership with the ICPDR, and funded by the EU's Danube Transnational Programme.

This is partly reflected by the first Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change from 2012 and its 2018 updated version. The ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change seeks to offer guidance on the integration of climate change adaptation into ICPDR planning processes. Further, it promotes multilateral and transboundary cooperative action in the context of climate change adaptation and serves as a reference for national policy makers and other officials.

Additionally, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) shows how cooperative frameworks and existing institutions that help Member States to implement EU legislation, like those to come out of the EU Green Deal, can be strengthened and supported. Close cooperation with the ICPDR with its experience and mandate in water management is therefore very important.

The ICPDR's wealth of experience in matters of climate change adaptation, transnational and inter-organisation cooperation, member state support and public involvement will prove to be eminently useful in helping to direct and progress the plans put forward in the EU Green Deal. The ambitious goals laid out will also go a long way to protect the Danube, and to encourage its sustainable use: making ICPDR's, and the EU's goals ever more attainable.

Next: Danube Watch 2/2020 - 15 Years of Cooperation and Fruitful Partnership

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