European Green Deal? Nice Plan! But who will implement it?
The tackle of pressing climate and environmental-related challenges is the most important test that our society needs to jointly address. For this purpose, the European Commission launched a lavish plan to prioritize sustainable economic growth, decoupled from the linear use of resources, through the promotion of systemic changes across economic sectors and within the society.
The ambition of the European Green Deal is related to the connection of different fields through a holistic approach that highlights the need for both horizontal understanding and management of actions dedicated to the transition toward a greener and more conscious future, as well as the necessity for well-planned cross-sectoral coordination.
In fact, the European Green Deal lists objectives and outlines activities covering a number of economic, financial and social precincts:
- Energy decarbonization (or clean energy transition);
- Industrial strategy for circular economy;
- Resource-efficient constructions;
- Smart and less polluting mobility;
- Farm to Fork strategy;
- Ecosystem services;
- Chemical-pollutant-free water and soil;
- Sustainable Europe Investment Plan;
- Green procurement;
- Greener taxation schemes;
- Up- and re-skilling for sustainable practices and upcoming circular job demand;
- Fair and better regulations,
- Environment as a goal in the European external cooperation schemes
- Ecological trade policies.
The European Green Deal is an essential step aligning the political action to the increasing requirements shouted by the citizens, and in particular by the young generation; while hurling circular economy at the centre of the development strategy as the main drive for sustainable and fair economic growth.
As the European Commission delineates objectives and sketches actions, the implementation of effective measures at the local level falls under the jurisdiction of national and regional (or provincial) public administrations and/or their managing authorities: these are in charge of contracting, arranging, deploying, financing and monitoring the practical activities that will lead to the achievement of the Green New Deal goals.
At the regional level, the instruments allowing the utilization of policy actions targeting the attainment of the numerous and cross-sectoral objectives portrayed in the Green New Deal, are the Regional Operational Programmes covering the 7-year multiannual framework, in line with the European Strategy covering the same period: these regional policy instruments results from the negotiations between each regional public authority and the European Commission.
Being the European Green Deal a fundamental objective of the next multi-annual strategy, regions and managing authorities will be in charge of its implementation at local level: it appears thus clear that civil servants need to be equipped with the right set of knowledge, competencies and skills to effectively manage the upcoming programming period.
The European Green Deal poses an additional considerable challenge since it foresees coordinated goals in the numerous sectors (mentioned above), each of the latter is separately treated in the red-tape organization of the public administration.
Famously, the public bureaucratic machine is sector-based and the cross-field communication is regulated through long-lasting internal norms: for example, if the economic development department needs access to environmental data, the civil servant needs to go through diverse internal procedures allowing the transfer of inputs from one department to the other. Now try to imagine what the public employee needs to go through when managing the various aspects (each controlled by a department) that need consideration when arranging policy instruments dealing with circular economy!
This is why we firmly believe that European Green Deal needs to be accompanied by a reform of the public sector, in order to overcome its already obsolete departmentalization, which is hampering the operativity and the actual possibility of transitioning toward a circular economy. New professional figures, as well as re-skilling and up-skilling, are needed in the public sector if we really want to implement and to reach the ambitious and necessary goals outlined in the European Green Deal.
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