This is an important day. We are gathered here a little over ninety days before the European elections to ask the question: are we brave enough to grasp the urgency of the moment?
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.
I welcome the much-awaited reflection paper of the European Commission "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030". I wish to congratulate First Vice-President Timmermans and Vice-President Katainen for this result. Now there is another window of opportunity to further push the sustainable development agenda, which must become the EU's top priority for the next decade. Let us be clear though: this is only the beginning of the road towards an ambitious and successful implementation of the sustainable agenda.
Witnessing the current discussions taking place in Katowice at COP24, I fear that not all have understood the urgency to tackle climate change; concrete measures need to be taken. Sustainable development and Agenda 2030 are the cornerstones to strengthen the European project. Tackling climate change is part of this agenda and this is why COP 24 must deliver and adopt an Agenda for hope and for future generation. Today, the EESC, had an excellent discussion with European Commission First Vice-President, Mr Frans Timmermans, on sustainable development.
We believe strongly that community-led action on sustainability is key to implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. We want to state it loud and clear that without action by citizens, communities, municipalities, businesses and other groups of civil society we will simply not be able to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Europe, its institutions and civil society appear to be a laughably inadequate defence against this sea of troubles. We need to get a grip. The next, crucial stage is just around the corner: the European elections. We have to put forward a European project that galvanises people, one that even lets them dream.
The EESC has been and will continue to advocate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda at a European level and beyond, transitioning to a society that is sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms. It is essential that organised civil society is fully involved and mobilised in relation to a future EU Sustainable Development Strategy.
On behalf of the EESC, I would like to congratulate Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations for launching a strategy aimed at financing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. We fully endorse Agenda 2030 as this is a win-win strategy: it is good for economic growth and competitiveness, it is good for companies and it is good for workers, and it is good for the planet.
Civil society's contribution to the Energy Union initiative by Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
The energy transition offers huge potential for cities and regions to pursue new, innovative and effective policies at regional level and is a terrific opportunity to put the EU on the right track to achieving faster sustainable economic and social development. European organised civil society can play a significant role in transforming the way people think to help them embrace change.