A blueprint for a Social and Green Deal

Follow-up Event of the Beyond Growth Conference

19:00 - 22:00
European Parliament (Hybrid)
A blueprint for a Social and Green Deal

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The Beyond Growth 2023 conference organised by 20 MEPs from five different political groups and non-attached in the European Parliament in May 2023 marked a turning point in the battle of ideas around post-growth. A large, enthusiastic and diverse community gathered in the forum of European democracy to bear witness to the considerable progress made by the scientific world and civil society over the last decade in moving beyond the economic models inherited from the 20th century, which are still at the heart of European policymaking.

With ecological crises accelerating before our eyes, as is the evidence of the limits of economic models based on economic growth and their impact on the environment in which citizens are living, it is clear that the Beyond Growth conference cannot be an end in itself, or simply the prologue to a new conference in 5 years’ time. Instead, it must be understood as an invitation to engage further in discussions on EU policy-making, building on what already exists to improve it.

Looking ahead to the next European elections and the next Commission’s work programme, this conference therefore aimed to focus on how to turn the EU’s flagship initiative, the European Green Deal, into a European Social and Green Deal.

The European Green Deal is now completing its first, political, cycle: since December 2019, a significant number of measures have been adopted, sometimes painfully, sometimes disappointingly, and much remains to be done. Building on what has been achieved and recognising that this flagship package has no equivalent in the world, many now call for the launch of a second political cycle – a social cycle – in the development of the Green Deal, as it is considered ill-equipped to address the interlinks between the ecological imperative and the reduction of socio-economic inequalities.

Three main challenges and limitations are generally put forward by critics. First, the European Green Deal relies on a green growth-centred approach which unrealistically assumes that it is possible to simultaneously sustain economic growth while improving environmental sustainability and social justice. Second, its ‘just transition’ perspective is too narrowly defined, marked by a social investment focus, with insufficient financial volume available for support. As such, it rests on a corrective supplementary logic designed to compensate for the effects of the green transition, does not challenge industrial labour relations, and risks reproducing or renewing social inequalities within the EU and with the rest of the world. Third, its industrial agenda remains centred on cost- competitiveness and its ‘Better Regulation’ agenda, fails to make EU funding conditional on social, environmental and financial requirements, and to promote the creation of quality jobs, fair working conditions and collective bargaining.

The organisers therefore seeked to discuss the shortcomings of the social dimension of the Green Deal, and to focus on the steps required to build a more ambitious, more integrated and more effective strategy to the social-ecological transition in Europe. With the help of leading decision-makers, scholars, trade unionists and civil society actors, the conference aimed to explore in particular which institutions, policy mix, financial resources, governance mechanisms and actors can help design a blueprint for a Social and Green Deal.

Commons Network
European Environmental Bureau
European Youth Forum
Friends of the Earth Europe
Generation Climate Europe
Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
Partners For A New Economy
Socialists and Democrats (S&D)
The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)
Wellbeing Economy Alliance
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