27 June 2024

Navigating the EU Green Deal after the EU elections

As we wait for the new European Parliament to take shape over the next weeks, the 2024 EU Election results have made one thing clear: there is a high priority to uphold European values. 

Despite a slimmer margin, the existing Pro-EU parties held their majority. The election result shows that the climate crisis was one of the issues on voters’ agendas alongside other overlapping crises such as cost of living, international conflict and wars, and immigration. These topics prove that we need a resilient Europe that combines all forms of economic, societal, governance, resource and environmental resilience. 

Local and regional level will play a critical role in addressing these topics, involving citizens, and upholding European values in the next term.

Impact on the EU Green Deal and local sustainability agendas 

While the makeup of the Parliament will take shape over the course of the next few weeks, there are several benchmarks to keep an eye on for continued climate action and ambition in the next term. As Manon Dafour, Executive Director of E3G Brussels, a Brussels-based climate change think tank, explained to ICLEI members in a dedicated webinar, a resilient, fair and green industrial deal has much potential in this next period. Implementation of the Green Deal together with industry, trade unions, civil society and all levels of governments would consequently be an absolute priority in the next five years. 

According to the EU Strategic Agenda 2024- 2029 that was recently leaked by Brussels outlets and expected to be adopted by the European Council end of June, upholding European values will be a top priority together with a “strong and secure Europe”, “competitiveness” and “making a success of the green and digital transitions”. 

This leaves hope for a strong European green transition agenda, but its success will depend on a set of key enabling frameworks necessary for cities and regions to move from planning to action. Particularly as it is in our cities and regions that more than 70% of legislative initiatives related to the EU Green Deal are being carried out. Firstly, the EU, national and regional funds need to become more responsive and accessible to locally developed integrated and holistic action, and investment plans. In the same webinar for ICLEI Members, ICLEI Europe RexCom Member, Jakub Mazur, First Deputy Mayor of Wrocław (Poland), emphasised the need for integrated finance. “We are calling not only on the European Commission but also on European institutions to deliver the financial instruments that are necessary for cities to achieve the Green Deal objectives.”

Secondly, partnership between all levels of government through permanent and structured dialogues with the local and regional level at the EU and national level will be critical to achieving the necessary transformation and societal resilience at scale. Lastly, there needs to be support for cities and regions to develop the adequate in-house skills and workforce to successfully do their part of the climate neutrality transition. These enabling conditions were established in a recently published joint letter to the European Commission from eight leading networks of cities and regions.

The future of the EU Green Deal and the implications for local governments

In light of the EU Election results, the 10th edition of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Conference (ESCT) will provide a strategic opportunity and milestone for cities to convene and advocate for these conditions. The Conference will take place from 1 - 3 October in Aalborg (Denmark), marking 30 years of action in the European Sustainable Cities movement in response to global and European agreements and policies. Alongside local and regional governments, European and international institutions, multilateral organisations, academia, businesses and civil society will convene to help shape a climate-neutral, resilient and just future through the implementation of Local Green Deals (LGD), and other place-based sustainable solutions, in line with European and global goals. 

“In Aalborg, we do not wait around for solutions, but develop them together. Therefore, it is important that we dare to take the lead and push for more green development throughout Europe. In my view, sharing experiences amongst communities is one of the most important things we can do in order to speed up the green transition, and I am very pleased that we are hosting Aalborg 2024. I look forward to both sharing experiences and developing new approaches in order to promote sustainability in European cities,” shares Aalborg Mayor Lasse Frimand Jensen. 

Building on the 2020 Mannheim Message, #Aalborg2024 will explore bottom-up shared governance, more efficient integrated finance and a more inclusive, cohesive transition as well as the importance of democracy in spearheading local solutions.

To register for for #Aalborg2024, visit the conference website