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EU Renews Green Pledges

EU leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to a just transition through the adoption of the 2024-2029 strategic agenda, aiming for climate neutrality by 2050. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the agenda highlights the “essential” nature of the transition for European prosperity and competitiveness, reiterating the “unprecedented challenge of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”. It sets out several priorities for Europe’s transition and proposes new measures, such as reducing the regulatory burden and reforming administrative procedures – including permitting for renewable energy projects. “With the recent adoption of the Nature Restoration Law, [European leaders] have committed to continue to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems,” the WWF said. “These commitments send strong signals to the European Commission and its future president. In particular, the emphasis placed by leaders on oceans and water resilience must now be followed up.” The approval of the strategic agenda was concomitant with the reindorsement of Ursula von der Leyen as the European Council’s preferred candidate for the commission’s presidency – giving hope for the EU Green Deal, a flagship initiative of her past mandate. To secure a second term, she still needs to secure an absolute majority during next month’s vote at the European Parliament of 361 out of 720 MEPs. According to the WWF, the number of MEPs critical of the EU Green Deal has grown following the latest EU elections. “Despite ongoing concerns over a more anti-environmental parliament, [our] analysis … shows that a large political majority remains supportive of continued action on climate and nature,” it added. Overall, the EU’s new strategic agenda is broader and less detailed than the previous one – including on climate and environmental policies – and more specific initiatives will need to be outlined by the commission’s incoming president, the WWF suggested. “Von der Leyen should now demonstrate consistency in order to find support in the parliament,” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “She must provide ironclad guarantees that the Green Deal will remain central to her policy agenda and resist any calls … to regress on environmental standards – in particular those on nature protection and restoration.” Previous attempts to simplify legislation have often weakened environmental rules and standards designed to protect people and nature, she added.

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