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Sustainability proofing

We need a sustainability proof EU budget that benefits people and protects the planet

We call for a reformed EU budget that serves sustainability while increasing well-being. Such an EU budget does not only deliver results for today but also thinks of tomorrow. We need to reform the EU budget because unsustainable, incoherent policies lead to a waste of money, waste of time and loss of lives. Economic growth that implies the increasing use of resources and land within or beyond borders can never be a goal in a sustainable society.

How can we realise sustainability proofing?

Sustainability proofing is a new methodological approach in the EU budget planning and implementation, and different substantive, procedural and institutional proofing tools can make it happen.

In this new approach, sustainability is the continuous adaptation to the changing natural and socio-economic environment, where the goal is increasing human well-being, the economy is a tool, and the natural environment is a precondition. Thus protecting the environment and maintaining the ecosystem services is not a luxury, but essential precondition for a thriving society and economy. On the other hand, economy has to be rather perceived as the means to achieve societal objectives.

Sustainability proofing also fully considers the mitigation hierarchy: focusing on preventing problems and decreasing trade-offs with the help of mitigation measures if needed and using compensation measures as the last resort. 

In our common European CSO position from last December, we proposed a number of potential proofing instruments to make the EU budget more sustainable based on eight sustainability principles for the EU budget. We also suggest the European Commission to develop a framework for increasing policy coherence, something that we have been also recommending in our letter addressed to the General Affairs Council.

As two main the overall policy coherence we recommend member states and the European Parliament:

  1. to invite the Commission to develop a common framework and guidance on the sustainability proofing of Union funding, building on the expertise and best practices from member states and the previous experiences on biodiversity proofing
  2. to adopt a joint political statement on mainstreaming sustainable development into the MFF, which is attached to the MFF regulation.

In our view a sustainability proof EU budget fully integrates an indivisible set of sustainability principles (see the leaflet):