The EU faces an extremely challenging set of circumstances. Beyond immediate health concerns, the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures taken in response to it have seen the EU’s GDP and employment go down by 11.4% and 2.7% respectively in the second quarter of 2020.
This has exacerbated existing social and regional inequalities. These impacts have also occurred at a time when the EU already faced growing pressures from climate change and environmental degradation, large public debt burdens in some countries and European citizens re-evaluating the benefits of EU membership.
Europe is at the tipping point of no return when it comes to climate change, biodiversity loss, resources depletion, reaching the planetary limits. Europeans are currently dealing with these multiple crises, including the economic and social ones. What is at risk is nothing less than the future of civilisation as we know it.
The five-year mandate of Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission will have a crucial role in shaping the lives of the current young generation and future generations. The ecological debt that will be forced on them, if additional significant actions are not taken now, will have unimaginable consequences for the generations to come. Thus, the consequences of further inadequate inaction or lack of sufficient ambition will be their lifelong burden.
Therefore, the measures provisioned within the European Green Deal and the recovery plans must thoroughly consider their imminent and potential long-term impacts and reflect on the stakes of the future generations. In the short-term, this can be addressed by meaningfully engaging and letting youth take an active role in decision-making processes.
Photo © Jörg Farys / Fridays for Future