Policy op-ed by Claire Roumet


Publication date

September 20, 2023

The President of the European Commission presented a review of her term of office in her “State of the Union” speech on 13 September. I will not address the four turbulent years she was in office here, focusing instead on an outline of what the programme might look like for the next five years.

What can we learn from this exercise?

That the “Green Deal” has set a clear course by taking on the European Union’s climate and environmental ambitions. This strategy is entering a new phase, that of transforming industry. There was not a word about cities, not a word about sobriety, but an expressed desire to strongly support all industrial sectors in stopping the use of fossil fuels.

This means there is no territorial approach and no local green deals on the horizon – instead, ever more support for production and trade. But will consumer spending keep pace? This is uncertain, when inflation is squeezing household budgets and basic necessities like housing and sustainable food are not assured.

However, one word stood out for me in the President’s speech. Recognising the rise in conflicts, she suggests we initiate “dialogue”, “conventions”, “consultation”.

One page of her annual review is dedicated to new forms of democracy (pg 68). She acknowledges that agricultural policy needs to be re-examined, and that the fundamental disagreements between the supporters of conventional agriculture and those of resilient agriculture cannot be resolved by way of new regulations, but that they really do need to be discussed with all parties. With all of them? In this case, cities should not be excluded from this conversation!

Her speech was enlightening, setting out a framework for discussion and preparation for the coming elections and the next five years of European policies.