Roadmap for Europe's
Socio-ecological Turnaround

How do we want to live? - Let’s talk about it!

If you agree with us that we are currently facing at least three serious crises – the social crisis with growing inequality between people in the country but also worldwide, the ecological crisis whose effects on the climate we experience every day and thirdly a crisis of democracy with a growing loss of trust in the acting politicians – then we should think together about how we want to live in the future.

The world as we imagine it, will look like this in 15 years:

The economy serves the people and not vice versa. Today, everyone only works a maximum of 30 hours. We move around mostly by public transportation that runs on renewable energy, as do the rest of the vehicles on the road – mostly cabs. We live in highly energy-efficient houses or apartments that are  increasingly publicly owned and provide affordable housing for all.

Many formerly privatized services are recognized as socially necessary and are provided free of charge to the entire population. These include public transportation, high-quality and free education from kindergarten to university, health care and nursing, modern infrastructure and communications networks, and publicly funded research and development for the common good. Other areas are now organized on a municipal or cooperative basis, such as energy and water supply, the aforementioned housing sector, as well as sports, arts and culture.

Private cars and short-haul flights are largely superfluous, as public transportation in cities and regions have been significantly expanded and interregional traffic is mostly handled by high-speed trains.

This is based on the insight that money is not really important, nor is it scarce, but that we live in a finite world with equally finite resources.

We no longer look at the gross national product, or even its growth. The good life for us is a secure job, a good education, the best health, strong communities and mutual social care in all stages of life. Justice and equality in Europe and beyond are serious political concerns.

At the beginning of the 2020s, the idea of a Green New Deal spread around the world, including Europe. The Green Deal of the EU Commission was further developed into a real Green New Deal for Europe. In addition to the socio-ecological transformation of the economy and society in Europe, this was also able to strengthen international solidarity and cooperation in such a way that climate change, social division within and between countries, and the associated dismantling of democracy could be stopped.

Central to these changes was the democratization of the European Central Bank (ECB). The latter is now controlled by the European Parliament and was given the mandate to ensure full employment across Europe and a massive commitment against climate change. At the same time, the debt brake was abandoned. Government leaders no longer make decisions based on the availability of money, but according to the availability of  resources that can actually be used productively, be it labor, natural or mineral resources, as well as in terms of benefits to the common good and environmental sustainability.

Through the job guarantee with socially inclusive wages created in addition to the dividend model of the Green New Deal for Europe, which at the same time has also decisively raised the level of the minimum wage, all people can participate in the social and cultural life of their community and country as they wish.

In the following, we set out what the individual steps are that can actually lead us to such a future.

Introduction

“...We can - and we must, in order to survive - change and overcome the failed capitalist system in the next ten years, for it threatens to destroy the life-support systems of the earth and with them human civilization. We must replace this economic system with one that accepts barriers and boundaries, that preserves soils, groundwater, rain, ice, patterns of wind and water flow, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity, and that brings us social and economic justice. 

We supporters of the Green New Deal know we can do this in the ten years or so that UN scientists believe we have left.”

Ann Pettifor

The Green New Deal (GND) policy concept is not new. In content and policy direction, it has its antecedent in President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the first half of the 20th century in the United States. It was a large-scale, successful investment program to combat the economic consequences of the Great Depression, the accompanying unemployment and impoverishment, and massive ecological damage.

In the summer of 2007, the “Green New Deal Group” formed around British economist Ann Pettifor. This group of environmentalists and economists presented the British “Green New Deal” in 2008.

Ten years later, in the run-up to her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s team contacted the London-based think tank Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), for which Ann Pettifor works, and consultations ensued on how to deepen, sharpen, and ultimately fund Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s policy program. In 2018, the “Green New Deal for the U.S.” was unveiled, targeting three problems: the threats posed by the impacts of climate change, increasing poverty and inequality, and the social divide between people of different colors. The central element of the U.S. “Green New Deal” is the guarantee that all unemployed Americans will be offered a job at building an energy-efficient infrastructure. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received strong support from, among others, Senator Bernie Sanders and the Canadian environmental activist and author Naomi Klein.

At this time, work also began – in a pan-European coalition together with the “Green New Deal Group” – on a similar report, a roadmap for Europe’s socio-ecological turnaround. This “Green New Deal for Europe” was developed by DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025) with dozens of economists, climate scientists, and activists and published in 2019. The German version of the report has been available since spring 2020.

The roadmap for Europe's socio-ecological turnaround

Lately, the pandemic has stripped away the ideology of neoliberalism, in particular with the doctrine of austerity policies and the imperative of balanced state budgets (even worse the “black zero”). It has become abundantly clear that states do have enormous financial power and can spend a great deal of money. This power of politics, as well as its possibilities to finance the necessary social-ecological turnaround, must be used.

Europe needs a common social project to survive the Corona crisis and its economic and social consequences. At the same time – and not later – this project must address the climate and environmental crisis, the ever-growing social inequality and poverty, and the crisis of democracy. Under no circumstances must all this take a back seat to dealing with the consequences of the pandemic for reasons of “austerity”!

In terms of goal, scope and necessity, both tasks are one and the same, the individual aspects of which are mutually dependent and can only be tackled together.

This radical approach is addressed by the GNDE. It is a comprehensive package of policy measures that points the way towards a just socio-ecological turnaround of Europe with the democratic participation of its peoples. To this end, the GNDE’s roadmap envisions three distinct building blocks:

Green Public Works is a historic investment program that directly sets in motion the equitable transformation of Europe.

Environmental Union is a package of laws and regulations to adapt EU policies to climate and environmental imperatives, as well as to anchor principles of sustainability, solidarity, and co- determination in European law.

The Commission for Environmental Justice is an independent body to research, monitor and advise EU policy makers on how to advance the overarching goal of environmental justice.

For those who would like more information, the full report is available for download as a PDF (including a foreword by co-author Ann Pettifor):

Blueprint for Europe's Just Transition

We combine this publication with an appeal to all activists in social movements, to social actors and responsible persons in NGOs, parties, organizations and religious communities as well as with a cordial invitation to all interested people to engage in a social discourse on a common political project for ecological sustainability, social justice, and democratic participation.

With this short presentation of the main contents of the GNDE we would like to give an overview of our concept for the social-ecological turnaround of Europe.

This brochure is structured as follows:

The building blocks of the Green New Deal for Europe:

Green Public Works

Green Public Works (GPW) is an investment program that combines economic goals with a vision of environmental justice:

Decarbonizing the European economy, reversing biodiversity loss, and ensuring decent jobs across the continent.

GPW is fully financed by green bonds issued by the European Investment Bank (EIB). These bonds make it possible to raise significant amounts of money without violating European Union budgetary rules. Backed by the European Central Bank, the bonds are a safe investment for Europe’s savings and pension funds.

The goals of the investment program are:

  • Reorientation of the European economy away from purely private wealth accumulation toward environmental sustainability.
  • Massive reduction of energy demand through integrated housing, utility and mobility strategies.
  • Elimination of homelessness and housing shortages.
  • A comprehensive energy retrofit program that will make Europe’s housing well insulated and thus more effectively protected from extreme heat and cold.
  • The creation of a pan-European mobility fund that gives every region of Europe access to fast, clean, low-cost transportation.
 

The coordination measures of public investments aim to:

  • Strengthen local authorities and promote networking between them,
  • Devolve investment decisions to subordinate European authorities where citizens are actively involved, and
  • establish a Green Solidarity Network that ensures cooperation between cities, regions and rural communities in Europe and enables the exchange of experience on best practices for green change by building administrative capacity.
 

GPW is more than just an investment program, however. It aims to revitalize democracy by empowering workers and their institutions. GPW funds are only awarded to private companies that advance Europe’s economic, social and environmental goals. Companies that focus their manufacturing on recycling, ease of repair, and long life cycles of their products, as well as shortening working hours, will receive funds for the transition phase. In addition, those companies that appoint workers to boards and invest part of their profits in funds that pay dividends to workers, thus creating additional resources for socially just change, will receive funds. Companies that have excelled in implementing the GNDE for Europe’s high standards of sustainability, democracy, and social justice receive a Europe Award, which provides for the possibility of additional funding.

GPW will invest in cooperatives and cooperatives that have traditionally suffered from a lack of access to private finance, and refocus Europe’s industrial strategy toward sustainability, democracy, and equity.

Finally, GPW will strengthen Europe’s rural regions. The vast majority of European subsidies currently go to multinational agricultural corporations, with devastating social and environmental consequences in and outside Europe. GPW will redirect these funds to support regenerative methods in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and ensure that Europe’s rural regions become the engine of our environmental recovery.

The GNDE envisions the following core Green Public Works policies:

  • Financing Green Change by mobilizing a coalition of Europe’s public banks – led by the European Investment Bank – to issue Green Bonds. These bonds amount to at least five percent of European gross domestic product (GDP) per year, which is currently about 700 billion euros in Green Public Investment funding.
  • Establish a public investment agency – Green Public Works (GPW) – that will channel Europe’s resources into social-ecological transition projects.
  • Introduction of a system of social and environmental progress indicators in place of gross domestic product.
  • Adoption of a new regulation ensuring that the European Central Bank prioritizes employment,social progress, and environmental protection.
  • Moving away from the public-private partnership model and ensuring that the return on public investment remains in public hands.
 

Creating decent jobs:

  • A job guarantee for all residents of Europe based on defined minimum standards regarding working hours, working conditions, co-determination, and socially-inclusive wages.
  • Introduction of an income guarantee for employees in those CO2-intensive industries that can no longer be operated in the course of ecological restructuring.
  • Introduction of a care income to adequately remunerate work such as the care of people, but also nature and environmental protection.
 

Democratization and strengthening of regions and municipalities:

  • Transfer investment decisions from GPW to national, regional, and municipal levels.
  • Establish a Green Solidarity Network to foster partnerships and collaborations between municipalities, regions, farmers, and communities to improve information sharing and policy-making across the European continent.
  • Strengthen the European Anti-Fraud Office to improve capacity to investigate misuse of public funds across the EU.
 

Housing:

  • Fund a vacant housing buyback program.
  • Rehabilitation and retrofitting of existing housing stock for sustainability.
 

Mobility:

  • Strengthen the European Union Cohesion Fund for Mobility to invest in the integration and improvement of public transport systems in Europe and ensure cohesion within and between Europe’s rural communities, municipalities, cities, regions, and countries.
  • Invest in an integrated, efficient network of high-speed trains that uses sustainably generated energy, in combination with a kerosene tax on intra-European flights, to replace air travel within Europe with rail travel.
 

Energy supply:

  • Use GPW to encourage public takeover of utilities in EU member states.
  • Promote energy supply as decentralized and close to consumption as possible, from a mix of renewable energies wind, water, and solar.
  • Promote citizen-owned energy cooperatives.
 

Health and social services:

  • Introduction of a European health and care standard and thus a minimum standard for public health care across the continent. Funding the minimum standard in those parts of Europe whose standards fall below it.
  • Investing in common public goods across Europe – from public parks to childcare facilities.
  • Funding a Europe-wide education guarantee that promotes educational opportunities across the continent.
 

Research and Development | Green Horizon 2030

  • Establish the Green Horizon 2030 research and development program.
  • Ensure that any technologies or techniques developed under the Green Horizon 2030 program are open source and developed in collaboration with other countries to promote the emergence of sustainable economies worldwide.
 

Industry

  • Provide funding to companies that meet a high standard in terms of both sustainability and strengthening workers rights.
  • Establish the Europe Award for companies that meet the principles of the GNDE and make great strides towards sustainability and democracy.
 

Agriculture and rural communities

  • Investing in the revitalization of Europe’s rural communities by promoting environmentally sustainable food production across the continent.

Environmental Union (EnU)

The Environmental Union implements the systemic change envisioned by the GNDE. It represents a comprehensive legislative package to reorient European policies based on the scientific consensus regarding climate and environmental catastrophe, so that Europe becomes a global leader in the

green transition.

The EnU includes legislation related to:

  • the climate emergency,
  • more sustainability and
  • more solidarity.
 

It calls for a formal declaration of climate and environmental emergency and new target projections, during which all existing and future European legislation will be reviewed for sustainability.

EnU legislation works for sustainability by stopping environmentally damaging production processes by companies in Europe – and through supply chains outside Europe. EnU will amend European regulatory rules to sanction fossil fuel investments, accelerate progress of the Sustainable Finance Technical Expert Group, and strengthen regulatory oversight of multinational banks operating in the Global South.

As part of its sustainable legislation mandate, EnU calls for a fundamental change in EU energy policy. It abolishes the legal framework of the “internal energy market” to enable the remunicipalisation of energy infrastructure. Subsidies for fossil fuels, both direct and indirect, are eliminated without replacement. EnU adopts a new system of fees and dividends to ensure that all emission sectors are taxed appropriately with revenues accruing to European citizens*.

EnU laws aim for solidarity. For decades, the EU has promoted the deregulation and waste of resources with the argument of competitiveness. EnU replaces the principle of competition with solidarity and prioritizes the interests of workers, communities, and the environment.

Legislation for solidarity also requires a radical change in European agricultural policy, which currently provides the bulk of subsidies in industry-like farms, thus flooding global markets. Instead. EnU pursues a common EU food policy and puts the agricultural sector at the service of sustainable development.

EnU aims to shape Europe’s international trade relations in a way that strengthens, not weakens, solidarity. This includes abolishing investor-state dispute settlement arbitration tribunals, integrating sustainability standards into World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, facilitating technology transfers, and supporting a global green transition.

The solidarity principle applies equally to an environmentally friendly European development policy.

EnU realigns the EU’s international development priorities and strengthens its commitment to multilateral financing mechanisms such as the  “Green Climate Fund”.

Finally, the EnU enshrines respect for nature in law by providing sanctions for polluters and recognizing “ecocide” as a punishable offense. The EU’s adoption of these new rules could serve as a model for global recognition of “ecocide” as a crime against humanity.

The Green New Deal for Europe envisions – among others – the following policies for building the Environmental Union:

Climate Emergency Legislation:

  • Declaration of climate emergency in the EU, coupled with a commitment to continually update climate targets to bring them in line with scientific consensus.
  • Detailed data collection on the state of ecosystems and setting new biodiversity targets across the EU.
 

Legislation for greater sustainability:

  • Introduce additional fiscal measures, such as a tax on environmental damage and a financial transaction tax, to generate funds to support regions most affected by the climate and environmental crisis.
  • Introduce legislation to close tax havens.
  • Introduce a new “Euro 7” emissions standard to discourage the production of fossil fuel vehicles.
  • Modification of the Railway Directive to promote electrification of the entire rail network in Europe.
  • Investing in high-speed trains and eliminating all air travel comparable to rail travel time.
  • Renegotiate the International
 

Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships to promote the decarbonization of the shipping fleets up to the limits of available technology.

  • Negotiate a new international convention to eliminate the arms industry in order to help countries around the world fight climate damage.
  • Promote the return of energy utility companies to public ownership.
  • Modify the Electricity Directive, the Renewable Energy Directive, and the Gas Directive to require 100 percent clean and sustainable energy production.
  • Link GPW funding to the phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Introduce a new policy for supermarkets and stores to mandate carbon and food traffic lights, elimination of unnecessary plastic, low-carbon transportation, and a living wage for farm workers.
  • Create mandatory eligibility requirements for sustainable land management, including the elimination of all unnecessary tillage, fertilization, pesticides, and machinery to prioritize carbon sequestration and reduction.
  • Phase out subsidies to large agricultural companies and farms and redirect funds to sustainable food production.
 

Legislation for more solidarity

  • Renegotiate World Trade Organization rules to ensure human rights, a clean environment and labor standards worldwide, and allow the free transfer of technology for the benefit of all people.
  • Shift EU trade rules to promote diversified, self-sustaining economies in Europe and beyond based on decarbonization.
  • Renegotiate international criminal law to recognize climate damage that amounts to ecocide as a “crime against humanity.”

Environmental Justice Commission (EJC)

The Commission for Environmental Justice is the top international body responsible for ensuring that the green transition is equitable. The structure of the EJC aims to ensure legitimacy, democracy, and authority. This includes chairs elected by each EU member state, a commission with representation as diverse as possible from within and outside Europe, a subcommission that implements the commission’s priorities, and Citizens’ Assemblies, which ensure that public participation is the focus of EJC activities.

Its primary task is to collect data on the impacts of climate change, develop new indicators for the assessment, monitor the turnaround of European climate policy, and advise the EU and other international institutions on their policies.

EJC’s work is divided into three areas:

  • international justice,
  • intersectional justice, and
  • intergenerational justice.
 

The climate crisis is global, but its impacts are not evenly distributed. Poorer countries contribute the least, but pay the highest price. EJC’s International Justice area aims to assess the link between EU policies and unequally distributed environmental degradation.

It will also create a platform where particularly affected groups can participate in the development of new regulations.

EJC will develop and apply criteria for international justice in several key areas, such as migration. Here, EJC aims to create the first comprehensive database on environmental migration and advise EU authorities on the formal recognition of climate refugees and their right to asylum.

Criteria for international justice will also be applied to multinational corporations. For example, EJC will advise EU institutions on the application of the “UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights” and discuss with them whether similar regulations can be introduced at the European level.

Climate change exacerbates inequality not only between countries, but also within countries. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes, “People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise disadvantaged are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change.” These inequalities are addressed by EJC’s intersectional division. Its work spans health, labor, education, and mobility, among other areas. In each, EJC identifies barriers to equitable distribution, recognition and participation. It advises EU authorities on how best to remove these obstacles. This is to ensure that all Europeans* participate in the green transition.

The EJC will (also) explore how Europe can fulfill its responsibility for its historic role in the exploitation of mineral resources in the Global South – in particular, by expanding the EU’s existing set of instruments for victim compensation for climate damage. These expansions should include climate and environmental funds that disburse funds and other resources to groups and communities particularly affected by centuries of colonial rule and excessive pollution.

The consequences of climate change are long-term and lead to inequalities that can persist for generations. EJC will therefore examine how Europe can be fair to future generations who will inherit this planet. In particular, EJC will assess European economic and environmental policies and their potential impact on future generations. EJC will consider explicitly enshrining a legal right for future generations to appropriate environmental policies. And it will make proposals on how investment decisions can approach zero disadvantage for future generations. After all, “climate justice is intergenerational justice,” as UN General Assembly President María Espinosa rightly said.

The GNDE envisions – among others – the following policies for the establishment and operation of the Commission for Environmental Justice:

  • Build the EJC and ensure that it is guided by the principles of equal distribution, recognition and participation of communities across Europe.
  • Building the EJC on four levels, from Chairs elected to represent EU member states, to drawn citizens panels to guide its work.
  • The EJC will be charged with investigating environmental justice issues and making recommendations to  legislative bodies within Europe and around the world.
  • The EJC is mandated to examine the international dimension of environmental justice: from trade relations to the rules of the game for transnational corporations.
  • EJC will be charged with addressing the intersectional inequalities caused by the environmental crisis and its various impacts on Europe’s communities.
  • Through the EJC, the challenge of intergenerational justice will be addressed with particular attention – both in terms of addressing past injustices and promoting tools to ensure that future generations inherit a livable world.

The 10 pillars of the Green New Deal for Europe

It simply doesn't work to call every single climate plan a 'Green New Deal.' The Green New Deal puts jobs at the center + equity + workers at the top as we transform economies + infrastructure. Not all climate programs are the same.

Tweet from US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 

 

Not every environmental policy concept is a Green New Deal. We have therefore defined – in the spirit of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – 10 pillars that must underpin a Green New Deal:

PILLAR 1: OUR PLAN MUST MATCH THE SCALE OF THE CHALLENGE

Global temperature rise must be limited to 1.5 degrees and the collapse of our ecosystems reversed.

The Green New Deal for Europe addresses the scale of this challenge by investing at least five percent of Europe’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year in the transition to renewable energy, reversing biodiversity loss, and the shared prosperity of all European citizens.

PILLAR 2: PUMP UNUSED EU RESOURCES INTO PUBLIC SERVICES.

Through green investment bonds from the European Investment Bank, Europe’s idle financial resources must be pumped into public services – without dumping the burden of transition on the shoulders of working people.

PILLAR 3: EMPOWERING CITIZENS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES

The Green New Deal provides clear procedures for citizens’ assemblies and local authorities to make decisions about the development of their cities, towns and regions that make sense from their perspectives.

PILLAR 4: GUARANTEEING DECENT JOBS

The Green New Deal for Europe stands for the creation of dignified and meaningful jobs.

It will ensure fair structural change for all workers* in carbon-intensive industries – with the promise that it will provide secure alternative jobs, well-paid training opportunities, and housing for all.

PILLAR 5: RAISING LIVING STANDARDS

By reclaiming unused housing for public use, the Green New Deal will address the housing crisis that has left so many people homeless or facing eviction.

By building smart energy grids and efficient transportation systems, the Green New Deal will lower the cost of living for all households. By reversing biodiversity loss and eliminating pollution, the Green New Deal will allow everyone to enjoy clean air, fresh water, and local nature preserves.

PILLAR 6: ENSHRINE EQUALITY

Over the past four decades, the unequal distribution of wealth in European countries has increased dramatically: The richest one percent of the population got as much of the economic growth as the bottom 50 percent.

Living standards also remain extremely unequal across countries, with significant variations in income, unemployment rates, and pollution.

Our program will reorganize the financial system. Instead of privatizing the gains from the green transition – as the 2015 Juncker Plan did – the Green New Deal will ensure that public investment creates prosperity for all.

PILLAR 7: INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

The way our economy is structured, the government invests in research and bears all the risk, while the private sector takes all the profits and pays little in taxes.

The Green New Deal for Europe must ensure that society benefits directly from investments in new technologies by using the revenues generated from them to invest in further innovation, thus also delivering on the promise of greater social relief, namely a shorter working week.

PILLAR 8: AN END TO THE DOGMA OF ENDLESS GROWTH

We need to move away from gross domestic product (GDP) growth as the common measure of progress.

Instead, we need to focus more on what matters: Health, happiness, and the environment.

The Green New Deal wants European institutions to focus on promoting the common good while setting the framework for an economy that can prosper without endless GDP growth.

PILLAR 9: FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE AROUND THE WORLD.

The environmental crisis is global and so must be the Green New Deal.

It must redistribute financial resources to rehabilitate exploited regions, protect against rising sea levels, and guarantee a decent standard of living for all climate refugees.

And it must ensure that Europe’s green transition does not export pollution to other countries around the world or continue to rely on resources from the Global South.

PILLAR 10: WE COMMIT TO ACT FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT TODAY

The Green New Deal consists of a series of concrete actions that will not only lead quickly to our climate and environmental goals. They target all sectors of society – sustainable economies, greater democracy, prosperity shared by all, and a more equitable world beyond our national borders.

Implementation of the Green New Deal for Europe can and must begin immediately. Given the urgent challenges facing humanity, any further waste of time is gross negligence.

Imprint

Green New Deal for Europe, Group Germany

Authors of this summary: Utz Gundert, Sabine Labs, Christine Madelung, Doretta Neumann, Reiner Trometer

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Our Coalition

4-day week

Authonomy

Climate Finance Pact

Common Wealth

Data for Progress

European Alternatives

Finanza Etica

Fund our Future

The Green New Deal Group

Institute for Public Policy Research

New Economics Foundation

FOUNDERS OF THE ALLIANCE

Literature

We recommend as further and more in-depth literature in particular:

Klein, Naomi: On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal [Book] Simon & Schuster, 2019.

Pettifor, Ann: The Case for the New Green Deal [Book] Verso, 2019.

On YouTube, we recommend the following video presented by The Intercept & Naomi Klein: A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: