Delors’ sustainability triangle as a guide to the EU future
30 January 2024

Delors’ sustainability triangle as a guide to the EU future

Delors’ sustainability triangle as a guide to the EU future

Dear readers,

2023 ended with the very sad news of the death of Jacques Delors, the architect behind the European Union as we know it, and the founder of our family of think tanks – the institute in Paris, the Jacques Delors Centre in Berlin, and Europe Jacques Delors in Brussels. A little known aspect of Jacques Delors’ vision is his commitment to environmental  sustainability – as I wrote in this op-ed published in Euractiv. In the visionary tenth chapter of his 1993 white book on growth, competitiveness and employment, Delors pictured the environment as one side of the sustainable development triangle together with the two others, the  economic and the social ones.

He probably would not have embarked in a greening of agri-food policy, necessary as it is, without starting with in depth discussion with and among the various stakeholders about the economic, social, and environmental  dimensions of such a transformative journey. 

Let us try to imagine how he would have faced the challenges of the upcoming elections: ensuring that his “new model of development” based on the  “triple” sustainability remains the guiding star for the next Parliament and Commission. 

In the agri food sector, dialogue will be key and hopefully does not come too late. As farmers across the EU voice their concerns and go on the streets, the European Commission has finally launched the Strategic Dialogue on the future of EU agriculture that, we, at Europe Jacques Delors had recommended several months ago to avoid excessive polarization. The difficulties in finding a common vision for the EU’s agrifood sector were echoed in a recent Conversation with Cees Veerman on the future of agriculture. Europe Jacques Delors’ agri-food team will also discuss this topic at the event “Taking stock of the Farm to Fork Strategy: Reflecting, Rethinking, Rebuilding, co-organised with the European Food Forum, next Wednesday, 31 January. You can follow the event online by registering here.

In the marine sector, the ecological transition has also to fully take into account economic and social aspects. The interests of small scale fisheries must be protected, the decarbonisation of maritime transport encouraged and marine sustainable energy promoted. 2024 will also be the year in which we will actively promote the “European Ocean Deal”. Together with Oceano Azul Foundation, Europe Jacques Delors will work on a manifesto and provide policy recommendations for a balanced and ambitious ocean protection programme in the next European legislature. We will continue to work on sustainable blue economy, with a first paper focusing on “Zero Waste Islands”, which explores the innovative zero waste model implemented on the island of Tilos and draws recommendations to accelerate the adoption of circular waste management solutions.

During the first quarter of 2024, EJD will assess progress made during the von der Leyen Commission on greening trade. This stock-taking exercise aims to identify key achievements and gaps in the greening of the EU's trade policy over the last five years. Reflecting on the past will allow us to draw lessons to shape the future of the EU's green trade policy. In the meantime, stay tuned for the publication of a policy brief on CBAM's implementation next month.

Geneviève Pons and the EJD team

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