Italian and European businesses are taking steps to build an ambitious, visionary Europe which is able to provide opportunities. The presidents of Confindustria (General Confederation of Italian Industry) and BusinessEurope, Vincenzo Boccia and Pierre Gattaz, are launching an appeal for a stronger, more united Europe. An appeal which I support.
The best way of dealing with those who currently systematically oppose the European project without making any tangible proposals is to point out and firmly reiterate that Europe has a clear strategy for the coming decade.
The European Union has a strategy which, if embraced decisively by its Member States and European civil society, would enable it to embark on an upward economic, social, environmental and institutional course. This strategy is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is based on the EU Treaty itself.
The famous 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) first adopted at the United Nations in 2015 and then by the EU, are the cornerstone of a strategy that would enable Europe to continue to focus on economic growth, maintaining and consolidating its competitive edge and concentrating on the virtuous education-research-innovation triangle, but doing so with a view to social inclusion, protecting the environment and institutional stability.
The relevance and effectiveness of the 2030 Agenda have been highlighted by the tables showing that the Member States which are closest to achieving the SDGs, such as the Nordic countries, are those which boast the best economic performance. In the same way, the businesses which adopt a sustainable approach most effectively are the most competitive.
The 2030 Agenda has now become an imperative for entrepreneurs: sustainable development-related businesses are the new cutting edge at which European businesses will be able to measure themselves against their US and Chinese counterparts in order to maintain and increase their competitiveness.
I refer to the battery or electric car sectors, or the renewable energies sector. It is on these fronts that European businesses will have to continue to invest and be creative and innovative. Moreover, this can also be inferred from the conclusions of the 2018 report of the Global commission on the economy and climate, an international body set up in 2013 which calculated that 65 million jobs could be created by 2030 worldwide if the energy transition were to be genuinely implemented, including the radical transformation of mobility and cities. Artificial intelligence is at the heart of all these transitions as it can increase productivity in many areas, from health to more efficient agriculture.
The extraordinary added value of the sustainable development agenda is that it is capable of enhancing and synergising the efforts of entrepreneurs, trade unions and civil society. Firm, ongoing trade union support is essential as the 2030 Agenda could be the social and economic contract for the 21st century, aimed at eradicating poverty, securing a decent standard of living and working conditions for all and reducing social inequalities. Sustainability goes hand in hand with inclusiveness.
Last week, the Commission issued a reflection paper putting forward three sustainable development scenarios with different timeframes. The paper focuses on the key policy foundations for the sustainability transition, which include moving from a linear to a circular economy, correcting the imbalances in our food system and making sure that this transition is fair. Strengthening the circular economy has the potential to generate a net economic benefit of EUR 1.8 trillion in Europe by 2030, resulting in over 1 million new jobs.
Although rather hesitant, the Commission paper is still a tangible step in the right direction.
Clearly, however, we need to get a move on if we are to keep Europe strong and united.
Italy should take note of this. According to the latest report by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), between 2010 and 2016 the situation in Italy deteriorated in five areas: poverty, economic and employment situation, inequalities, condition of cities and terrestrial ecosystems.
On the eve of the European elections in May, Eurosceptics must not be given a free rein but countered with facts and figures in the area where they are on the most slippery ground - practically building the future.
Implementing the 2030 Agenda, a single, clear, generous strategy serving the rightful aims of the people, is the best way of successfully calming fears, including in Italy. We owe it to ourselves and to our children.