The sustainability agenda is a positive agenda, it is about making people’s lives better. Europe has all that it takes to tackle the greatest of challenges. What we need is everyone’s engagement and the political will to follow through. While others are retreating, Europe must now move forward, improve its competitiveness, invest in sustainable growth and lead the way for the rest of the world. It is not enough to have a vision; we also need to agree on a concrete way to get there. This Reflection Paper is a contribution to that debate. The questions raised are intended to inform a debate among citizens, stakeholders, governments and institutions in the months ahead, with a view to inspiring the debate on the future of Europe, the preparation of the European Union’s Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, and the priority-setting of the next European Commission.
The EU was instrumental in shaping the 2030 Agenda and, together with its Member States, has committed to being a frontrunner also in its implementation, both within the EU and by supporting implementation efforts in other countries, in particular those most in need, through its external policies. The Commission’s proposal for the next multiannual European budget for 2021-2027 is a budget guided by the principles of prosperity, sustainability, solidarity and security. Sustainable development is at the very core of the proposals. Sustainability is promoted through and mainstreamed into numerous programmes and spending instruments.
There are five EU policy areas with a vital role in achieving the SDGs:
This Reflection Paper puts forward three different scenarios following the European Council’s guidance to lead the discussion on how the implementation of the SDGs could best be achieved and what would be the most effective division of roles. The three scenarios outline different responses but depart from the notion that the EU has great competitive advantages to lead globally and be a successful first mover: