Green Europe: building the ‘brand’ on fairness and quality?
As Europe navigates the digital transition, what is already in its toolbox – and what needs to improve – to ensure it’s also a genuinely green transition that will transform people’s lives for the better?
And as it goes through the process, can all sectors work together to harness their collective ambitions and ensure that Europe’s digital ‘brand’ stands for products that are green, fair and of high quality?
Experts tackled these topics, and more, in an online working group discussion on 23 March. The meeting was held as part of the ‘Green Europe’ strand of the Connected Europe initiative being conducted by Friends of Europe, in partnership with Vodaphone, to foster a successful, green and resilient digital transformation in Europe. The solutions-focused project involves a series of citizen focus groups, working groups and policy debates, with the final recommendations due to be launched in a final report at our annual State of Europe High-Level Roundtable.
In focus groups carried out prior to the meeting, the views and priorities of citizens were broadly aligned with those that fed into the first strand of the series, ‘Successful Europe’. Again, the message was clear: as society’s ‘twin’ digital and green transitions are planned and executed, citizens want a balance of fairness, quality and convenience to remain at the heart of that transformation.
Citizens’ desires for a clear, Europe-wide mark they can trust to inform them if a product or service is ‘green’ was reflected in the experts’ discussion, which addressed topics such as reforming the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) to incorporate green indicators and the free availability of trusted data, including the concept of a ‘digital product passport’ to provide consumers with the environmental and other impacts of each product.
The ideas generated by the group will be ‘test-driven’ through consultations and deliberations with a group of MEPs over the following weeks and discussed at a policy debate on 20 April.
The power of connectivity is beyond imagination. If developed properly and fairly, it can boost and transform lives, create a sense of community, and enable Europe to live up to its values. Connectivity opens up a world of access to education, skills and training, enabling self-agency in tackling climate change & the housing crisis as well as improving mobility and agriculture – and so much more.
That is the power we are tapping into through Connected Europe, an initiative launched in partnership with Vodafone to foster a successful, green and resilient digital transformation in Europe.
Solutions cannot be not determined by a single institution or approach. It isn’t about access to jobs vs. access to health, or a greener Europe vs. a strong economy. It’s about wiring things around people and communities to improve livelihoods. It’s about private, public and civil society working in a different way, and together, locked in by social contract that enables a just transition to a world that is fast emerging.
This Working Group meeting is the second in a series and will bring together a select group of policy- and decision-makers to hone in on what is necessary to create a greener Europe.
Participants include: Dionysia Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Member of the Hellenic Parliament and European Young Leader (EYL40); Dorothée D’Herde, Head of Sustainable Business at Vodafone; Hauke Engel, Partner, Sustainability at McKinsey & Company; Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EUASE); Harald Gruber, Head of Division, Digital Economy and Education at the European Investment Bank (EIB); Lynn Kaack, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich; Linda McAvan, Executive Director, European Relations at the European Climate Foundation (ECF); Daniel Mes, Member of Cabinet to European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans; Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of European Parliament; Dragos Pislaru, Member of European Parliament; Martin Porter, Executive Chair of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership (CISL); Stephanie Trpkov, Global Solutions Young Global Changer; and Ben Wreschner, Chief Economist at Vodafone, among others.
Participation in the Working Group is by invitation only. To learn about the outcomes of the meeting, please register for the Green Europe policy debate which will take place on 20 April.
There is no question that properly leveraging digital technology will play a vital role in ensuring the success of the Green Deal and improving quality of life. Indeed, one of the prerequisites for European Member States’ recovery and resilience plans will be their effective contribution to the green and digital transitions. The possibilities for such projects are vast. Investing into digital infrastructure has the power to simultaneously enable green investments and facilitate the adoption of new systems – such as edge computing, Internet of Things (IOT) platforms, and smart infrastructure which could cut carbon emissions and create energy-efficient smart buildings. And as states finalise their national plans for accessing the EU’s €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), they will be looking to ensure that every investment respects the emissions thresholds set out in the Taxonomy Regulation – also mandating that activities must ‘do no significant harm’ to the Regulation’s other environmental objectives.
This expert working group will bring together a select group of policy- and decision-makers to hone in on what is necessary to create a greener Europe.
- How might green indicators be introduced to Europe’s tool for assessing digital performance and tracking the evolution of EU Member States in digital competitiveness, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)? What about as requirements for implementing the RRF? And what would be the essential elements of such a scorecard?
- How should Member States work together through pan-European initiatives that could contribute to a greener Europe? And how can important projects of common European interest (IPCEI) ensure the prioritisation of green initiatives?
- What mechanisms should be in place to ensure multi-stakeholder involvement in designing new, green infrastructure which benefits both communities and the environment?
- By Jamie Shea
- Area of Expertise
- By Jean-Luc Lemercier
- Policy Briefing
- Area of Expertise
- Digital & Data Governance