Europe faces a mammoth challenge this winter, of spiralling energy prices feeding into wider inflation on a scale unseen since the 1970s ‘stagflation’. Short-term responses have been immediately required, and a number of European Union member states have taken measures such as energy-price regulation and various forms of subsidy. The debate on the effectiveness of such measures, from a social, economic and environmental point of view, continues.
Important as they are, such measures do not deal with the fundamental underlying problems of Europe’s continued dependence on fossil fuels and, linked to that, its excessive geopolitical constraints. Tackling these entails accelerating the transition to a fossil-free economy, along with other measures to enhance Europe’s ‘strategic autonomy’ on the global stage.
This series of articles, supported by the macroeconomic institute, IMK, of the Hans Böckler Stiftung, sets out what options Europe has to respond to these demands, including exploring the potential of a mission-oriented approach, given their long-term, yet urgent character. It looks, inter alia, at the scope for going beyond the current Recovery and Resilience Facility to a permanent, scaled-up and even greener successor. It explores how the necessary investments can be made in major associated public projects, such as in renewable energy, and how an EU industrial policy can drive enterprises towards producing green products in eco-efficient ways.
On the political level, the series also looks beyond the war in Ukraine to how Europe’s trade relationships should be reset, where dependence on Russia for gas is replaced by independence tout court and other options, such as the ‘friend-shoring’ suggested by the United States Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, are considered. On this wider canvas, it will explore how Europe can exercise genuine ‘strategic autonomy’ for the global public good when it comes to the green transition.