EventsEventsPodcasts
Loader

Find Us

ADVERTISEMENT

Euroviews. Moving beyond growth is not only desirable — it is essential

The European flag flies at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 2023
The European flag flies at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 2023 Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
By European Parliament Members (MEPs)
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

VIEW | The pursuit of growth at all costs has created a global economic system that is fragile and vulnerable to shocks, and this needs to change, a group of European Parliament Members (MEPs) write.

ADVERTISEMENT

Next week, more than four thousand people will participate onsite and online in the Beyond Growth 2023 Conference, a cross-political initiative taking place at the European Parliament in Brussels. 

We, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from five different political groups and non-attached, are organising together alongside more than 60 partner organisations.

With this three-day conference gathering high-level speakers from EU policy-making, academia, trade unions, businesses and civil society organisations, our aim is to challenge conventional policy-making in the EU. 

We also want to redefine societal goals across the board, moving away from the harmful focus on economic growth as the sole basis of our development model.

The existing model of growth at all costs has reached its limits

We believe that the current economic model, based on endless growth, has reached its limits. 

Firstly, continuous economic growth, especially based on the consumption of fossil fuels, is leading to catastrophic global warming. 

Secondly, the infinite pursuit of growth relies on the depletion of natural resources, the destruction of biodiversity and the accumulation of waste and pollution. This also poses risks to our health, our economies and our societies writ large. 

The pursuit of growth at all costs has created a global economic system that is fragile and vulnerable to shocks.
AP Photo/Peter Dejong
The Farmers Defense Force flag, right, and Dutch flags, fly in the wind on an intersection blocked by tractors in The Hague, February 2020AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Thirdly, the current economic model is contributing to social inequality and exclusion. 

The emphasis on economic growth has not translated into equal distribution of wealth or opportunities. Instead, it has resulted in a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few leaving many behind. 

Fourthly, the current economic model is inherently unstable and prone to crises, as seen, for example, during the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The pursuit of growth at all costs has created a global economic system that is fragile and vulnerable to shocks.

Human well-being and ecological sustainability have to come first

As MEPs from different political groups, we have different perspectives on how to achieve a beyond-growth economy. 

However, we all agree on the urgency and the importance of the issue at hand. 

We share the view that we need an economic system that prioritises human well-being and ecological sustainability over GDP growth, one that recognises that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible.

We need to find new ways of organising our economies without relying on the continuous exploitation of resources and the constant increase in production and consumption.
Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP
At sunset, smoke rises from the chimneys of a combined heat and power plant at the capital's Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), in Schönefeld, February 2023Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP

We also believe we need to find new ways of organising our economies without relying on the continuous exploitation of resources and the constant increase in production and consumption.

We call for more pluralism in economic thinking within EU institutions and for its alignment with the scientific evidence of climate, ecological and social sciences. 

We call for economic models and other decision-support tools to be more diverse, more comprehensive and more readable for citizens. 

We call for decision-making processes to be aligned with our common policy objectives rather than on the basis of the variation of GDP figures.

ADVERTISEMENT

There are other policy options

As policy-makers, we also believe it is our responsibility to lead the way in finding new policy options. We, therefore, commit ourselves to dedicate our energy to our own parliamentary work to support bold and ambitious proposals that pave the way for sustainable prosperity in the EU and beyond. 

In particular, we propose the following overarching actions for EU institutions and Member States.

We need to develop a new comprehensive strategy for a beyond-growth European economy that fully integrates social, environmental, and economic objectives. 

A new strategy should be based on the principles of ecological sustainability, social justice, and well-being and should prioritise policies that contribute to these objectives.
PETAR PETROV/2007 AP
Bulgarian pensioners shout anti government slogans during a protest in Sofia, March 2007PETAR PETROV/2007 AP

The European Green Deal, as the EU’s flagship initiative for tackling climate change and promoting a sustainable future, is an important and necessary step, but it does not acknowledge the limits to growth.

A new strategy should be based on the principles of ecological sustainability, social justice, and well-being and should prioritise policies that contribute to these objectives.

ADVERTISEMENT

Institutional architecture should follow suit

We have to promote a pluralistic approach to the indicators and macroeconomic models used by the EU and its Member States. 

Building on the existing work done by the European Commission and many other institutions, we call for a policy-making approach that relies on indicators measuring progress beyond GDP, on the use of macroeconomic modelling aiming at the respect of planetary boundaries and the improvement of social well-being, and on the development of green and gender budgeting tools.

We should design our institutional architecture to better serve the beyond growth strategy.
AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
A rainbow forms between the European Council building, left, and the European Commission building in Brussels, September 2022AP Photo/Olivier Matthys

We should design our institutional architecture to better serve the beyond growth strategy. 

Drawing from proposals made by academics ahead of the first post-growth conference, we propose to establish a Directorate-General for Sustainability and Well-Being in the European Commission, a special Committee on Beyond Growth Futures in the European Parliament and a ministry for economic transition in each Member State. 

Each of these structures should be responsible at their own level for developing policy proposals beyond growth and coordinating the EU’s efforts towards sustainability and well-being.

ADVERTISEMENT

Our economy has to become future-fit

The level of public interest in a future-fit European economy is higher than ever before, and having such a landmark debate in the European Parliament is a powerful symbol. 

The Beyond Growth Conference offers a unique opportunity to have a pluralistic debate connected to scientific research in all its diversity that meets the concrete expectations of our fellow citizens. 

Designing pathways to live well within the social and environmental limits of our society is not only desirable. It is also absolutely necessary.

The following European Parliament Members have co-authored this article:Philippe Lamberts (BE), Bas Eickhout (NL), Ville Niinisto (FI), Manuela Ripa (DE), Marie Toussaint (FR), Ernest Urtasun (ES), Kim Van Sparrentak (NL) — Greens/EFA; Manon Aubry (FR), Petros Kokkalis (EL), Marisa Matias (PT), Helmut Scholz (DE) — The Left (GUE/NGL); Pascal Durand (FR), Aurore Lalucq (FR), Pierre Larrouturou (FR) — Socialists & Democrats (S&D); Sirpa Pietikainen (FI), Maria Walsh (IE) — European People’s Party (EPP); Katalin CSEH (HU) — Renew Europe (RE); and Dino GIARRUSSO (IT) — Non-attached (NI).

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

ADVERTISEMENT
Share this articleComments

You might also like

Does rightward swing and Greens downturn spell end of the Green Deal?

720 seats & Five years to run: Unpacking the European Election

Protests in Paris and Brussels against far right gains in EU elections