As underlined in the context of the Annual European Citizen’s Energy Forum, when the global population will reach 10 billion, experts warn that the equivalent of almost three planets would be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles – and this could be by 2050! A majority of EU citizens are now conscious of environmental issues and they are willing to make environmentally correct choices in their consumption.
However, they encounter many obstacles in translating their willingness into action, and the gap between intentions and actions remains high. In the last months, young people in several EU countries have been manifesting and asking for a more ambitious political leadership on climate action and green lifestyles. There is therefore a momentum for a public action to accelerate the transition to the green economy. What responses could EU consumer policy provide? What is the citizens’ role in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provided by the Agenda 2030? What are the connections with European consumers' rights?
Citizens at global level are united by a common language, the one of the SDGs, which should shift
from being a simple language to being a shared “culture of doing”.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2019 European elections the European Consumers Union and Active Citizenship Network have decided to promote an Inter-institutional Group, entitled “SDGs for Well-being and Consumers’ Protection” with the aim of promoting consumers’ rights and supporting the new European Commission’s priorities as the “European Green Deal”.
The political initiative focused to encourage the Inter-institutional Group opened to members of the new European Parliament and of the European Economic and Social Committee. It was already anticipated at the EU Parliament last March during the event entitled “Towards EU election: strengthening the European Union to a more effective consumers protection” and informally very well received by the European Commission as a useful way to make sustainability an easy choice for citizens.
Indeed, more than before there is the need of a European Union closer to its citizens. This need is made more urgent by the rising of new challenges that are creating first-class and second-class citizens in the accessibility to goods and public services. For this reason, we strongly believe that citizens’ and consumers’ empowerment should be the pillar of the transition towards a more inclusive and sustainable Europe.
Mariano Votta, Director, Active Citizenship Network