EU economy must “bounce forward” rather than back after Covid-19

Posted on April, 07 2020

Ahead of today’s meeting of the ministers of the Eurogroup to discuss the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, WWF is calling on the EU and its member states to ensure that future economic stimulus plans are fully aligned with the objectives of the European Green Deal, and help accelerate Europe’s transition to a just and sustainable economy.

In a document entitled “Building resilience: WWF recommendations for a just & sustainable recovery after Covid-19”, WWF cautions that badly designed economic recovery plans risk exacerbating social inequalities and the environmental crisis. Instead, stimulus packages should aim for a sustainable, equitable and resilient recovery, in line with the European Green Deal.


‘While the immediate priority must be to save lives and protect the most vulnerable, European leaders cannot afford to veer away from their agreed course of the European Green Deal. Climate change and nature loss continue to be very real threats - not just to our planet, but also to our economies and societies,” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Economic recovery and environmental action can and must go hand in hand, by channeling investments into future-proofing our economies and making them resilient in the long term.”


The paper lays out recommendations to ensure just and sustainable economic recovery plans, as well as broader recommendations for the long-term sustainable and just transition. It also makes suggestions on the innovative financial tools to be used at EU level. 


“Does it really make sense to spend billions bailing out the world’s most polluting industries, so that they can continue to destroy our climate and our nature?,” asked Sebastien Godinot, Economist at WWF European Policy Office. “Unsustainable business models must be turned around, rather than propped up: this should be an imperative for any stimulus plan. Failing this, public spending to overcome the current health crisis will simply make the climate and nature crisis even more expensive.” 


In the paper, WWF suggests a number of concrete measures to guide the allocation of public economic recovery investments. These include ensuring that at least half of the money is directed to environmentally sustainable activities, excluding support for environmentally harmful activities, delivering social benefits, strengthening existing environmental standards, and improving the overall environmental health of our societies.


The paper also includes broader policy recommendations for strengthening and fully implementing the proposals of the European Green Deal, ending harmful subsidies (for example to fossil fuels and intensive agriculture), accelerating EU sustainable finance policies to shift the trillions, and ensuring sustainable production and supply chains.


Finally, it calls for the ‘toolbox’ of new EU financing mechanisms to be structured and employed in line with the European Green Deal to ensure consistency.


“Heading these recommendations will leave Europe better equipped to tackle the ongoing climate and biodiversity emergencies, which, if left unchecked, will pose ever greater threats to our health, livelihoods and wellbeing,” concluded Ester Asin. “Failing that, there is a real risk that Europe will fall back to an outdated and destructive economic model, rather than using this moment to “bounce forward” towards a sustainable future for all.”

Rapid deployment of renewable energy sources must help decarbonisation across all sectors and create green jobs.
© / WWF-Canada