On January 30th, 2019, the European Commission released the Reflection paper “Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030”, the publication of which was announced in the letter of intent accompanying the State of the Union speech of President Juncker in 2017. The aim is to renew the commitment of European Union to achieve the objectives of 2030 Agenda of United Nations, including those of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The document presents a reflection on the complex, urgent challenges related to sustainable development: ecological debt, climate change, but also demographic change, migration, inequality, economic and social convergence, and pressure on public finances. Isolationist and nationalistic tendencies can be added to those as clear signs of the lack of confidence by European citizens in the effectiveness of EU policies.

The focus of the paper is therefore directed to the strategies on which the transition towards sustainability must be founded: moving from linear to circular economy, correcting the imbalances in our food system, future-proofing energy, buildings and mobility, and making sure that this transition is fair, leaving no one and no place behind. The Commission then lists the horizontal enablers behind this process: education, science, technology, research, innovation and digitisation; finance, pricing, taxation and competition; responsible business conduct, corporate social responsibility and new business models; open and rules-based trade; governance and policy coherence at all levels.

Three scenarios are presented in order to stimulate the discussion on how to follow up on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda within the EU:

- an overarching EU SDGs strategy guiding the actions of the EU and its Member States;

- a continued mainstreaming of the SDGs in all relevant EU policies by the Commission, but not enforcing Member States' action;

- an enhanced focus on external action while consolidating current sustainability ambition at EU level.

At the end of the document, the Commission reiterates the willingness to make EU a pioneer of the transition towards a sustainable economy on a global level, in the awareness that European policies can have only a limited impact on the planet if others pursue contrasting strategies.


Here the press release of the European Commission.
Here the factsheet on the contents of the paper.
Here the full version of the Reflection document “Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030”.



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