Will MEPs support shift towards ‘sustainable wellbeing economy’?

Posted on 10 June 2021

Next week, the European Parliament’s ENVI committee will vote on an 8th Environment Action Programme, which is to set out the direction for EU environmental and climate policy action until 2030.
What is happening?

On 14 and 15 June, the European Parliament’s ENVI committee will vote on rapporteur Grace O’Sullivan’s report on an 8th Environment Action Programme (8th EAP), which is to set out the direction for EU environmental and climate policy action until 2030, building on the European Green Deal. 

Why does this matter?

This is the first step for the European Parliament to establish its position on the 8th EAP, setting the tone for the plenary vote in early July. It is a chance to improve on the Commission’s proposal, which lacked the overall ambition and forward-looking actions to achieve the stated long-term aim of ‘living well, within the means of our planet’. Once agreed with the Council later this year, the 8th EAP will be legally binding for EU Member States and other EU institutions. 

What will WWF be looking for?

WWF has been calling for the 8th EAP to firmly embed a shift towards a “wellbeing economy”, in which public interests determine economics, and not the other way around. Only then, will the EU be able to achieve the ambitions of the European Green Deal. The ENVI report must now take the Commission’s proposal and build on it to give the 8th EAP teeth.

In March, the Council already adopted its position, which strengthened the Commission’s proposal in certain areas, but also fell short of firmly embedding the idea of a wellbeing economy. While the Commission and the Council’s positions hint to this, they shy away from providing concrete actions, for example, a requirement to assess existing frameworks and indicators with the purpose of moving towards a wellbeing indicators progress framework.

The ENVI report should improve on the Commission proposal in the following ways: 
  • Support a shift towards a sustainable wellbeing economy within planetary boundaries;
  • Make explicit the steps to enable this shift, notably by introducing an overarching framework to measure progress beyond GDP following a thorough review of all existing EU monitoring and indicator sets that measure social, economic and environmental progress;
  • Call for consistency with the 8th EAP’s objectives across all EU actions and for a systematic consistency checks of all Union policies and measures against the objectives of the 8th EAP, also taking into account the cost of inaction;
  • Support the phase out of all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 at the latest, and all other environmentally harmful subsidies by 2027;
  • Annual reports by the Commission on the Union and Member State progress towards the 8th EAP and European Green Deal, which are to be discussed as part of the annual programming; 
  • Support a mid-term evaluation of the 8th EAP’s objectives in 2024.
Following the vote in ENVI, the Parliament will vote in plenary in the week of 5 July. Once the Parliament has adopted its position, trilogue negotiations between the EU institutions will begin.

Quote

“MEPs must stand up for a 8th Environmental Action Programme deserving of its name: a meaningful lever for environmental action. A strong Parliament position must then be adopted in plenary next month, to serve as a basis for trilogues and lay the groundwork for a transformative shift towards a wellbeing economy for Europe,” said Rebecca Humphries, Senior Public Affairs Officer, WWF European Policy Office.
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