Future-proofing Europe’s governance systems for a fast and fair climate transition

All for one and one for all

EU flags flying outside a large building.
The Berlaymont building, headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. By embedding climate goals across other areas of policymaking, the EU can make its just transition goals more resilient. Photo by gp27photo on Adobe.

The EU tends to consider climate, economic and social issues in silos. But disjointed policymaking is not the answer to problems that are becoming ever more intertwined. With debates ongoing to shape the EU’s political agenda for the next five years, now is the time to figure out how to shape Europe’s governance to deliver a just and resilient climate transition.

The 2024 European elections are approaching, hot on the heels of crises including cost-of-living pressures and geopolitical stressors. The increasing impacts of climate change show us the urgent need to increase ambition for the climate transition. However, deepening inequalities offer opponents of the transition the opportunity to pit climate goals against social and economic interests.

The EU therefore needs to evolve its approach to governance. Integrating climate considerations across other areas of policy allows those problems to be solved together. The European Green Deal provides a model to follow, showing how having a strong climate goal to serve as a compass can allow the ship of governance to stay on course through turbulent waters.

Steps towards harmonised governance for a just transition

Three upcoming political debates will offer the space to explore strategies for pursuing climate targets while safeguarding social cohesion and economic competitiveness:

  1. The 2040 target-setting process needs to lead to a clear implementation plan – not just for how to hit ambitious climate targets, but also addressing economic and social concerns.
  2. Preparations for the next European budget offer opportunities to identify better ways to channel money towards meeting climate and social objectives. The funding gap in the European Green Deal threatens not just climate targets, but social cohesion and competitiveness too.
  3. Upcoming revisions of climate legislation can offer an alternative route to boost progress on the just and inclusive transition. Just transition tools need to actively pursue social justice, and fairly distribute the benefits and opportunities of the transition – rather than narrowly focusing on compensating for climate impacts.

Read the full briefing.


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