With the Green Deal, the Commission has set one of its key priorities for Europe’s sustainable development. On 22 June 2020, the Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, presented an Eurostat Report, which gives an overview on the progress of the European Union concerning the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which shall be achieved by 2030 based on the UN Agenda “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The EU committed itself to the Sustainable Development Goals and this year enshrined the SDGs monitoring for the first time in the European Semester. Based on 100 indicators, Eurostat analysed the progress made by the EU and individual Member States in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals over the last five years. In a press conference, Gentiloni underlined the importance not to lose sight of global challenges such as the climate crisis and the growing social and economic imbalance in view of the Coronavirus pandemic. According to Gentiloni, the implementation of policies to reach the SDGs is “our roadmap to a better world” – Europa has to adopt a frontrunner role.
Progress regarding the majority of SDGs
On average, the EU saw an improvement with regard to almost all Sustainable Development Goals over the last five years. The Eurostat Report points towards great progress made by the European Union regarding “Peace, justice and strong institutions”. Eurostat attests good progress in respect of SDGs “No poverty”, “Zero hunger”, “Good health and wellbeing” as well as “Decent work and economic growth”. Moderate progress was made in respect of eight Sustainable Development Goals. These include among other “Quality education”, “Affordable and clean energy”, “Reduced inequalities”, “Sustainable cities and communities” and “Responsible consumption and production”.
Increased need for action to address both the climate crisis and gender equality
Most action is needed to tackle the climate crisis and gender equality. No progress has been made in respect of “Climate action”. With regard to “Gender equality”, the European Union has even performed moderately worse over the last five years. Gentiloni talks of “disappointing results” and announces that more attention would be paid to gender inequality – in particular in the country-specific recommendations within the scope of the European Semester. The poor showing of the EU in respect of the SDG “Gender equality” is also in view of the stronger impact of the crisis on women and, associated with it, the potentially even greater manifestation of gender equality, a clear warning signal – after all, the Eurostat Report is based on data of 2019 auf thus does not include any effects of the Coronavirus crisis. Austria has seen slight improvements regarding most Sustainable Development Goals; however, regarding the quality of education and reducing hunger, the situation has deteriorated over the last five years.
Need to overhaul the European Semester
The Chamber of Labour generally welcomes the integration of SDGs in the European Semester. However, the inclusion of the SDGs is currently first and foremost a description within the scope of an additional chapter. It would be desirable to enshrine the SDGS in an analyse, which combines the interactions between SDGs and indicators with other parts of the Country Reports. Apart from that, a general reform of the European Semester strengthening its democratic legitimation is urgently required. The AK demands participation of the European Parliament as well as a more engaged inclusion of social partners and civil society.