The German Presidency of the Council of the EU – Purposefully Driving Sustainability
The German Presidency will take the reins of the Council of the EU on Wednesday 1 July following one of the most tumultuous times the European Union has faced in recent years. With the European Commission having committed to a ‘Green, Digital and Resilient’ recovery, Germany’s gargantuan task will lie in steering the 27 Member States down a road that ensures both sustainability and economic improvement.
The path to a sustainable European Union was launched pre-crisis in the form of the EU Green Deal – an ambitious, almost audacious roadmap for funnelling sustainability throughout the entire policy pipeline, and changing climate challenge to climate opportunity. Importantly, undeterred by the pandemic, calls have surged in the last months for the EU Green Deal to remain both the political and moral compass for moving forward.
In order to firmly anchor this trajectory, the German Presidency should take into account the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These provide a global framework for the EU Green Deal’s initiatives and the Presidency’s priorities including:
- Pursuing the Circular Economy Action Plan (contributing to SDG12)
- Conclusions on the Biodiversity Strategy (contributing to SDG15)
- Closing the conversations concerning the Climate Law, and Clean Hydrogen (contributing to SDG13)
- Offshore wind (contributing to SDG7)
- Conclusions on the Farm to Fork Strategy (contributing to SDG2) and
- Updating the EU energy diplomacy action plan (contributing to SDG17).
Leadership from the German Presidency is key to many of the EU Green Deal’s initiatives, and the country is already showing the way by, for instance, adopting its national hydrogen strategy. This paves the way for Germany and its industry to contribute towards greener mobility and a decarbonised economy. Business with a purpose-led approach at the core of their strategies will be able to seize opportunities on the sustainability agenda and show how their values and operations are aligned with the Green Deal’s objectives. These, in turn, are themselves inherently linked to those of the SDGs.
Sustainability objectives sit alongside the German Presidency’s other pressing priorities, such as brokering the negotiations on the EU Next Generation recovery fund as well as the next Multi-Financial Framework. With guidance from the SDGs and the EU Green Deal, the German Presidency can ensure that the course is sustainable and inclusive.
Providing the opening address at the virtual Annual Council Meeting of the European Council for Foreign Relations on Monday 29 June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, stated that “the COVID-19 pandemic showed us, in an almost existential fashion, how important [closer exchange between civil society and policymakers] is”. For industry, this reinforces the role they can help play in bringing multiple voices to the table. Ultimately, this dialogue is a key part of the recovery process, unifying multiple stakeholders in working towards the common purpose of improving society and the economy.