It may be a while before Europe is faced with a challenge as acute as the current Covid-19 pandemic. With immediate concerns in Brussels focused on safeguarding Europe against economic meltdown, attention is now shifting in earnest to how best to boost the post-lockdown recovery.
An emerging fault-line in this debate is between those that view the European Green Deal and its components as essential to any recovery, and those that see it as an unaffordable burden. The sole focus, they argue, should be on protecting jobs and recovering growth.
How this conflict plays out will be a defining feature of the Brussels scene over the coming months and beyond.
The battle between the pro’s and anti’s is already visible. ACEA, the trade association representing Europe’s all-powerful automotive industry has, for example, called for the Commission to push back what it views as ‘crazy consultations’ on battery disposal and emission standards for cars and trucks, and is pushing for the relaxation of CO2 targets.
From the other side, Transport and Environment, Brussels’ leading transport campaign group, argues that ‘we shouldn’t let some opportunistic carmakers use the crisis to shamelessly roll back the EU climate targets for cars,’ and ‘any incentives to boost demand once normal life resumes should be targeted at zero-emissions cars.’
From an institutional perspective, and despite an initial wobble, there seems to be clear support for the green recovery agenda. The European Council has mandated the European Commission to publish a comprehensive recovery plan with the green transition at its heart.
And the European Parliament looks set to adopt a resolution this week that calls for ‘a massive recovery and reconstruction package’ that should have at its core the Green Deal and should create jobs ‘while at the same time assist in the ecological transition.’
However, the European Commission is signalling a more pragmatic, or nuanced, approach, with key initiatives such as the Biodiversity Strategy and Farm to Fork plan pushed back as part of a thorough revaluation of its Green Deal planning.
As always, the devil will be in the detail, or more specifically in the timing and sequencing, as well as the form, of the various Green Deal initiatives. This means significant risks, but also opportunities for Brussels stakeholders, on whichever side of the Green Deal fault-line they may find themselves.
There are a number of factors that are going to be particularly important in capitalising on this fluid and dynamic environment. Speed of thought and action are essential, but this needs to be premised on a strategy that has been reviewed and revised to take account of the post Covid-19 recovery opportunity.
Organisations need to move towards a circular approach to strategy development and implementation — one which builds on effective intelligence gathering, rapid analysis and an ongoing review and revision mechanism to keep ahead of developments. Speed and flexibility will be key.
What has not changed, but becomes even more important, is to ensure that you can cut through the noise with clear and compelling arguments, and backed by as broad a base of interests, including national, as possible.
All this represents a significant challenge to many companies and trade associations. The extent to which they can make the necessary adjustments will have a significant impact on their influence over the EU’s post-recovery Green Deal agenda.
If you’d like to discuss how Leidar can help your organisation navigate the Green Deal, get in touch with Frans.Green@leidar.com.