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What should Europe do?

EUROPE / Europe and EU co-operation have developed in step with society's crises and challenges. On that occasion, MODERN TIMES has asked a number of Norwegian opinion leaders questions about the future of Europe. The EU's Green Deal shows leadership on the environment and climate, in addition to digital services. We ask which areas the EU should prioritize, with appropriate political, legal or industrial initiatives and forms of cooperation.

Rector of NTNU, Anne Borg, argues that Europe, without specifically mentioning the EU, must play a global leadership role: “Humanity faces challenges of a scale and consequences unparalleled in our time. The challenges are complex, and we need new solutions quickly – it is urgent if we are to limit the consequences of climate change and reduce further losses of biodiversity. However, the challenges are very complex, and we need a change that is sustainable socially, economically and environmentally. "

She continues to MODERN TIMES: "Europe should be a major player in the biggest turnaround of all time, in the extensive work that needs to be done to secure our future. Europe is already taking responsibility and leadership through clear policies and what I perceive to be a good will to implement. It requires an integrated and active Europe, where Norway will be able to be an important supporter and contributor."

Borg does not elaborate on how Norway should be a supporting player, apart from a knowledge developer: "We must have a global perspective. Solidarity with low- and middle-income countries is absolutely essential for success. The pandemic has taught us that it does not help to vaccinate only parts of the world's population. This can only be solved by Europe showing the way and a willingness to develop and share knowledge and solutions with countries outside Europe, and especially those countries that have far weaker prerequisites and financial resources than European countries. This must be pervasive in the policy that Europe lays as a basis in all areas."

Also former minister and now deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Sveinung Rotevatn, sees the need for EU cooperation to solve the global problems facing the world: "As long as our biggest challenges are global, the EU is relevant. The climate crisis, the corona crisis, friction between the great powers and an increasing number of illiberal democracies are just a small selection. What these challenges have in common is that the solutions are almost exclusively international. In our part of the world, that means the EU."

Sveinung Rotevatn

At the same time, Rotevatn emphasizes that cohesion in the EU depends on citizens knowing the EU first hand: "If the EU is to stand firm and handle crises with force and authority, stronger cohesion within the union is required. To ensure this, the citizens must feel firsthand that the EU gives them more freedom and more opportunities in their everyday lives. Therefore, the EU's main task at home must be to create an orderly common market for digital goods and services."

Rotevatn highlights our paradoxical domestic European debate: "Today's government uses the EU as a scapegoat for everything from poor wage support schemes to high electricity prices. They want to discuss alternatives to the EEA, but refuse to discuss Norwegian EU membership. No matter what they decide, Norway will feel more of the EU's value in the years to come. As the income from the oil and gas industry decreases, the economy becomes more similar to the economy of our neighboring European countries. We will also notice more of the same challenges that they are aware of. This applies to the green shift, regulation of the large technology companies such as Facebook and Google or solutions to common migration issues."

The anchor of democracy

Former SV leader, minister and head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), now adviser to the industrial giant Røkke, Erik Solheim, is concerned with the development the world has experienced over the past 30 years and what consequences it should have for our attitude to the EU:

"When we discussed the EU before the referendum in 1994, we argued on the no side that Norway should be outside the EU so that we could pursue a more ambitious environmental policy and not be subject to EU standards, which were lower than Norwegian ones. The Yes side believed that Norway should become a member in order to influence the EU in the right direction with regard to the environment.

No one predicted a future where Brussels was more ambitious than Oslo on the environment. Nobody predicted a world where aggressive green policy from Brussels would pull Norway in a more environmentally friendly direction."

Erik Solheim

Also defense for democracywas low on the agenda in 1994: "The West's dominance was total, and democracy appeared as the future system for the whole world. Fukuyama wrote about the victory of the West and the end of history. No one even hinted at the possibility that the United States would become a dictatorship. Of the many challenges we saw – Trumpism was not one of them.”

Solheim has clearly changed both his approach and view of European cooperation:

«In 1994, the perspective was self-determination and how we in Norway should make the world a better place. Seen from 2022, more cooperation in Europe appears to be the answer to almost every major question of the 21st century.

You ask about better environment? The EU and the EU's taxonomy are ahead of Norway, pull us in the right direction and are the framework for most of what we can do. And fred? The United States has participated in almost every war in recent decades. Europe is not always, but often, a counterweight. As for the islandKonomi: In 2050, China will be the largest economy in the world, probably followed by India, the USA and Indonesia. No European country except Germany is in the top ten. Only a united Europe has weight when it comes to trade, international rules or global economic progress.

According to Solheim, Europe is democracy's anchor: "When one of the two major parties in the USA wants to move the USA in the direction of dictatorship, Europe becomes much more important for us and the world. No one can guarantee that the Democrats will win every election in the United States going forward. China, India and many other powers are important partners. But without a strong Europe, democratic values ​​and culture could erode.

Like Blessed John Keynes once said: 'When the facts change, I change my opinion. Don't you, Sir?' The answer to almost all important questions for Norway in the decades ahead is more Europe."

Green conversion

Another important voice in the social debate in many key areas is the project manager in Civita, Mathilde Fasting#: "Many of the major challenges going forward must be solved internationally, not nationally. The corona pandemic has shown that, and it is also clear that the environment and climate must be a very high priority in the EU.

The most difficult areas to cooperate on are migration and the economy, such as the harmonization of taxes. Nevertheless, I believe that this should be a priority.»

Mathilde Fasting

In addition, Fasting believes that educational opportunities, cultural exchange and investment concerning young people's cooperation and familiarity with each other and with the EU should be prioritised: "They are the workers and decision-makers of the future, and without their will to develop EU cooperation it will fail. It is also an important recognition that no EU country is in any way close to being able to succeed alone in many of the major challenges ahead, but the EU together will be able to have opportunities and resources", says the leading voice on the Norwegian right.

Og Lisa Rye is professor of political science at NTNU and author of the book Norway in Europe, where she emphasizes the EU's industrial policy initiative, where climate neutrality and digitization are central. She sees this as a move in a wider context: "The work to develop the EU's common market is going on, relatively undisturbed by noise and crises in other policy areas. Today we simultaneously see a more protectionist union and an EU which, given the world situation, is more concerned with strategic sovereignty. The EU wants to make itself less dependent on others, in several areas. I think it is easier to achieve greater independence in everything to do with the internal market than in other areas. And, I hope that this work will involve a continued strengthening of workers' rights. There is a lot to go on there.”

"The EU today is the world's strongest driver for stopping the climate crisis." Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås

Former SV leader, minister, author and today businessman, #Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås#, told MODERN TIMES he agrees with his former party leader Solheim that the EU is today the world's strongest driver for stopping the climate crisis:

"Nevertheless, neither the EU's nor Norway's climate policy powerful enough to limit the rise to 1,5 degrees. The EU's policy for a green transition will significantly affect both oil and climate policy in Norway in the years to come. It will contribute to lower emissions in Norway and push forward restructuring in the oil and gas industry. The opportunities that lie in our largest trading partner stepping on the green gas pedal, at the same time as they are planning the rapid phasing out of all fossil fuel use, are a help to carry out a green transformation of Norway that we must not let go of.»

Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås

The EU's goals in the European Green Deal is to be climate neutral by 2050. This means that emissions that still occur in 2050 must be fully accounted for by CO2-cut in other ways:

"11. On December 2020, the EU increased its targets for emission cuts towards 2030, from a 40 per cent cut to at least a 55 per cent cut compared to 1990. Since then, concrete regulation to reach the EU's climate targets has been rolled out in high gear. Since Norway has chosen to link its climate policy to the EU's, this means that most of the rules and initiatives also cover Norway. Still, it's not good enough.

In addition to the fact that the EU countries collectively make up one of the world's three largest economies, the EU has the most aggressive climate policy in a special class: the EU sets the world's most ambitious targets for climate cuts while at the same time ensuring a planned implementation of changes in regulations in all areas. This is how the EU ensures that they reach the climate targets they set themselves.

For the EU, it is about the opportunities that lie in creating new jobs in a business community that is changing from fossil fuels to renewables, and that the climate threat is met with action."

European Commission

One of Norway's foremost internationally recognized political scientists, today director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, #Iver B. Neumann#, strongly advocates for strengthening EU cooperation:

"Regardless of the challenges, it will be easier to solve them if EU cooperation is strengthened. There are two measures in particular that can be taken, and the two are linked: Firstly, management of several policy areas can be transferred to European Commission. It is making progress in this area, especially with regard to the green shift and the EU's newly developed access to take out loans. Such specific progress is important, because this has ripple effects. A typical example would be cooperation on standards. When the EU in its day established cooperation on the certification of goods, it not only created new export markets, but also more cooperation on the production side. The easiest way to speed up such processes is to give the commission a mandate to investigate where it is appropriate to take such initiatives, and how they should be implemented.»

Iver B. Neumann

Secondly, according to Neumann, a united EU can be strengthened by increasing the requirements for what is needed to be considered a full-fledged member state: "Here we have a couple of relatively recent examples to show. The most important are Greece and Great Britain. The economic crisis in Greece demonstrated what one for all and all for one means concretely. The first means that the others stand up for the one in crisis. Moreover, it means that the one who does not do enough has to raise himself to the level of the others in order to be able to count on them still wanting to stand up. The alternative for Greece was to leave the Eurozone, or to leave the EU. Greece chose to raise its standards, especially in terms of tax collection, to catch up with the others."

Britain became a member in 1973 and left the union last year: "I lived and worked there for a total of eight years during the membership period and can report that British politicians time and again portrayed their national problems as EU-created. The result was a less pro-Europe public opinion than in many other EU countries. At the same time posed Storbritannia constantly stand in the way of strengthening EU cooperation. After the referendum that led to Brexit, the British traveled around trying to divide the other member states in order to negotiate good terms for themselves. The result was that they welded the EU countries together better. In other words, Britain did not master this with binding cooperation. Charles de Gaulle was therefore right when, in the 1960s, he opposed British membership on the grounds that the country was not ripe for it."

Commodities and trade unions

Former CEO of Norsk Hydro, Svein Richard Brandtzæg, is concerned that the EU should to a greater extent direct its gaze southward: «Europe should turn its attention to Africa to a greater extent. Here, the population will double within a few decades. We must realize that there is not a high enough border fence in Europe to prevent millions of Africans from fleeing poverty, climate change and unrest on the African continent. Africa may be the biggest threat to stability in Europe. Europe's Africa policy therefore becomes very important for development on both continents. Instead of building border fences, a European 'one belt one road' strategy is something to think about for a contribution to development in Africa. An increasing European investment in competence development and business development in Africa will perhaps be the best aid we can contribute in the years ahead."

"A European 'one belt one road' strategy is something to think about for a contribution to development in Africa." Svein Richard Brandtzæg

Svein Richard Brandtzæg

Brandtzæg is also concerned with access to raw materials: "While China and other states secure raw materials for their own production, there is a growing shortage of raw materials in Europe. Recycling reduces the gap, but access to raw materials will be a critical factor when, through the green shift, Europe moves from petroleum-driven energy production to renewable energy production based on materials for, among other things, wind turbines, batteries and solar energy. Europe should concretize a strategy to secure raw materials for European industry – and in particular take a closer look at seabed minerals."

#Liv Tørres# is a trade union leader and international secretary at LO. For her, it is crucial that the green transition is fair for employees: "One must both take climate-friendly transition into account and at the same time ensure the employees decent jobs in the transition process. The conversion will be costly. Through various funds, the EU has set aside around 100 billion euros for this, which is to be distributed over 10 years. They expect the member states to come up with a corresponding sum. This level of investment worries the European trade union movement. They point to the fact that The European Court of Auditors has calculated that the restructuring measures will cost over 1100 billion euros. With such costs and a funding gap, there is a danger of major conflicts and risks.

Tørres sees from this background that the trade union movement in Eastern and Central Europe is now clearly opposed to the climate measures in the EU: "In countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, the trade union movement is very concerned. Not because they do not believe in climate change, but because of low trust in the authorities. The lessons from the financial crisis in 2008 have not been forgotten – where the bill was sent to most people through cuts in wages, social arrangements and weakened wage formation."

New referendum

Also parliamentary representative for the Labor Party, Trine Lise Sundnes, highlights a fairer and more solid society: "The pandemic has made social differences visible and emphasizes the importance of stronger safety nets. The social dimension will have a prominent role in policy development going forward. The reconstruction package 'NextGenerationEU', adopted in 2020, is an innovation in EU cooperation. At the same time, there is an internal discussion about how much the EU should take on tasks in areas that have previously been the responsibility of the national states. This became clear in the debate on the minimum wage directive, where opposition is strong in Sweden and Denmark. They fear that a legal instrument for determining the minimum wage will undermine the Nordic model of working life, where the parties to the working life are responsible for wage formation."

Bjorn Grydeland

Former government adviser in the prime minister's office and Norway's ambassador to the EU and Italy, one of the country's most recent leading bureaucrats, Bjørn Grydeland, takes the magazine out of his mouth and advocates a new referendum: "It is 50 years since Norway in 1972 chose to stand outside full-fledged EU cooperation. It is more than 25 years since we last repeated this position in 1994. In these years, the EU has shown that they have managed well without Norway. Thanks to its oil wealth and the EEA agreement, Norway has also done well. But Norway is now facing challenges where closer cooperation in Europe and with the EU would be beneficial. The EU will also be able to benefit from Norway's participation. Norway should show that we are willing to take our binding share of the responsibility. It requires us to be on the inside in the forums where the work is to be done. We need a new membership referendum in Norway.»

Grydeland highlights pandemic management: «Norway has handled parts of the pandemic crisis well, thanks to the import of vaccines developed by foreign companies in other nations. At the same time, handling in Norway has been self-centred and weakened international and Nordic cooperation. New pandemics will come. Stronger international cooperation will be able to proactively contribute to better preparedness.

"Only large countries and associations can, for example, regulate 'big tech.' Bjørn Grydeland

Anti-democratic and populist currents challenge responsible international cooperation. A sometimes overzealous EU with too great an appetite to regulate small issues that the nation states could handle on their own contributes to this. But the EU has shown in its 70 years that the nation-states will persist, while at the same time that in some areas supranational instruments are needed to solve the big questions in a better way for the community. Only large countries and associations can, for example, regulate 'big tech'."

Europe's relative power position

Leader of Young Liberals, Ane Brevik, believes that the corona crisis is a powerful reminder that Europe can only deal with cross-border challenges through international cooperation: "Countries that have previously fought for globalization chose to turn inward at the outbreak of the pandemic. For various reasons, the nation-states have sought short-term self-interest for their own population rather than a common good. Each country separately. Despite the fact that the pandemic has put our supranational institutions to the test, it is precisely through cooperation bodies that we have paved a way out. In the agreement on joint vaccine procurement, the member states of the EU undertook not to enter into agreements directly with the same suppliers. It stands in stark contrast to the fundamentally unfair distribution of vaccines that prevails elsewhere in the world. In the shadow of the corona crisis, a new crisis was quietly growing. The governments in Poland and Hungary have used strong measures to consolidate their power, with increasingly draconian measures. Viktor Órban and the Fidesz party have consolidated power over the press and the judiciary. The Polish PiS regime is dismantling the rule of law and undermining basic human rights."

Ane Brevik

According to Brevik, ineffective reactions from the EU institutions have partly enabled authoritarian currents in some member states: «When Poland and Hungary do not comply with the basic principles of EU cooperation, it also works against the Union, and the European community of values, as a whole. The crisis of democracy and the rule of law is as disturbing as the crisis at Europe's outer borders. The lack of reactions from the EU is also reflected in Poland's handling of the refugees at the border with Belarus. It goes against the refugee convention and the EU's core values ​​and threatens the legitimacy of the union and the binding cooperation in Europe."

Og Pernille Rieker, project manager at NUPI, says that the story about the EU's imminent collapse is still popular, but constantly refuted: "So far, most crises have led to a strengthening of the EU's competence rather than a weakening. The examples are many, within various areas such as financial stability, migration or health. Not even Brexit has led to fragmentation. The argument that the EU grows stronger during crises therefore still seems to be valid. Europe's relative position of power has weakened, but the EU still has great structural, political and economic power, and in some areas the EU has also been able to assume global leadership. We see it, for example, in the environment and climate and in digital regulation."

So what is needed for the EU to be able to continue to play this role globally – also in the future? "In my eyes, there are two threats that require particular priority: There is the undermining of European democracies and the increasingly urgent external military and security policy threats, where the latter is also a prerequisite for the former."

Citizens' Council

Another prominent voice in Norwegian social debate in recent years is Sylo Taraku, political scientist and adviser at Tankesmien Agenda. Taraku speaks to MODERN TIMES in favor of holding citizens' council on European cooperation, also in Norway: "The EU's so-called democratic deficit is a persistent challenge for the union. A challenge the EU is trying to do something about in different ways. In 2010, I sat as an observer in the EU Parliament when they considered the proposal 'A European citizens' initiative' – an idea that would give EU citizens the opportunity to directly set the agenda in the European Parliament if they managed to collect one million signatures. This was a step in a positive direction, but far from enough."

"Creating citizens' councils in Norway to discuss EU matters is a good idea." Sylo Taraku

According to Taraku, French President Emmanuel Macron advocated more inclusive democratic processes: "After the yellow vest riots in France in 2018, Macron initiated the creation of several citizens' councils, which should consist of randomly selected citizens. He also proposed something of the same at EU level when he spoke for the conference on the EU's future.

Sylo Taraku

The manner in which the conference is organized is in itself important. Because here they really try to include ordinary EU citizens in the decision-making processes. This happens precisely through diverse citizens' councils, which are to discuss specific issues of great importance to the EU. The proposals they come up with will this year finally be collected in a report and followed up by the EU institutions. [See also interview with Daniel friend, and articles about citizens' council ]

Although Norway is not part of the EU, we are strongly influenced by EU politics. A problem with Norwegian debates about EU policy is that they often start at the wrong end. It is first by that the EU directives have been adopted and are to be implemented, that they really receive attention here at home.

Creating separate citizens' councils in Norway to discuss EU matters while they are relevant at EU level is therefore a good idea. As we do not have a voice in the EU, we should try to make our voice heard in other ways. In addition, a citizens' council will ensure that important EU debates are initiated in time. Debates on everything from climate and social dumping to digitization and migration."

One of Taraku's special fields is migration policy, which he highlights as a central challenge: "Migration is precisely one of the central themes of the EU conference The Future of Europe. A topic that also concerns us to the highest degree. We have common external borders and are closely linked to the EU's common asylum policy.

The migration crisis of 2015 created deep divisions in Europe, especially around the issue of burden sharing. The tone was implacable. But the commission's new president, Ursula von der Leyen, appears more pragmatic. She tries to reconcile the different positions, which is well reflected in the proposal for a new migration pact. Everyone must contribute in one way or another, but no one should be forced to accept asylum quotas against their will.

It will be exciting to see what comes out of this conference in the field of migration, but I hope that solidarity remains an important principle. Without a solidarity approach, it will be difficult to deal with migration as a common challenge."

Norway accepts an annual refugee quota via the UN, and we are not obliged to an EU quota: "But we can and should help the EU in other ways. For example, by assisting both financially and technically, so that the new procedures in the border countries work as humanely and efficiently as possible. Then I think about everything from registration to return. In precarious situations, we must also consider the relocation of some asylum seekers from the border countries, as we did when the Moria camp in Greece burned down.

Succeeding in handling the migration pressure is absolutely essential for the EU. Because it not only shows the EU's relevance, but can also contribute to strengthening support for international cooperation and thus counteract the growing nationalism we see in our time."

Refugee and asylum policy

Frank Rossavik

Author and commentator in Aftenposten and former Brussels correspondent, Frank Rossavik, apologizes to MODERN TIMES that it has been 20 years since he worked extensively with the EU and thinks he is hardly the right person to ask. Nevertheless: "I would like to believe that the EU should concentrate on what has historically been the core of cooperation, i.e. getting the economy to soar as well as possible. The EU's active climate policy is a natural part of this. The fight against inequality is a field where the EU needs higher ambitions. Macron's proposal for a European minimum wage could be a place to start. Asylum policy is not so directly linked to the economy, but the EU cannot avoid finding something better than the unsightly compromise based on the agreement with Turkey.»

Also Linn Stalsberg, author and public debater, points to the EU's disjointed and failed refugee policy: "For example, let's look at an area I know well: refugee policy. Or, how the EU has in no way managed to take care of society's crises and challenges in this area. Here a couple of its members, Greece in particular, but also Italy and Spain, are left almost to themselves, without the will and/or ability to distribute the responsibility and care for people on the run. Instead, the EU chooses downright lugubrious solutions such as paying Libya's guerrilla-like regime to keep the refugees confined in cruel camps and forcing the boats to return. The EU also has no rescue ships in the Mediterranean, or solutions for the boats that pick up desperate people.

"The EU chooses downright lugubrious solutions such as paying Libya's guerrilla-like regime to keep the refugees confined in cruel camps." Linn Stalsberg

Stalsberg Linn

The crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland this winter also shows how the EU's lack of a plan and assertiveness in refugee policy facilitated Belarus' willingness to use refugees as a means of pressure. So yes: the EU must adjust a humane refugee policy and relieve the countries at the outer borders. The EU, on the other hand, must scale back its formidable efforts in Frontex – this vast machinery of the EU's own border police, technological surveillance and military equipment that watches over our external borders and contributes to great human tragedies.”

 

 

Work and solidarity

Author, writer and postdoctoral fellow at BI, Ola Inset, points out to MODERN TIMES "The EU must give Europeans back their faith in the future. This is partly linked to the green shift, and in my opinion the most important thing, in the short term, will be to create a working life that works. There are simply far too few good jobs, and it has been that way for far too long. This is a global economic problem, but the integrated European labor market has also led to fierce competition between European workers from different countries for increasingly poor jobs. Within such a stagnant economy, this is, to put it mildly, not suitable for creating the community and cross-border solidarity that the EU project depends on. The European Central Bank has printed enormous sums of money to stabilize the financial markets and has thus shown that it is not the money that counts. The European Green Deal points in the right direction, but is far too complicated and far too characterized by capital interests setting the agenda.»

Og Svein Tuastad, who is associate professor of political science at the University of Stavanger, is concerned with pthe olidarity key: «How should progressives, liberals and radicals shape politics when it is often the elite, and institutions such as the EU, which have constructive solutions for example in migration policy, energy policy and transport policy? The answer has to do with what creates the solidarity well-functioning societies depend on. This solidarity means that we are 'together', the others will like it and are even willing to stick up for each other now and then."

"A question about how much solidarity exists in European citizenship." Svein Tuastad

For Tuastad, the EU and Europe benefit from closer integration: "The EU also needs solidarity between EU citizens, but it must not have the same high level as the nation state. The question of integration in the EU is a question of how much solidarity exists in European citizenship. The integration policy must make it clear that he is playing on a team with and not against the nation-state. Solidarity is created and maintained in our societies via political discussion. If the foundations for politics are good and inclusive, people will be able to agree on politics on a basis of solidarity. The discussion must show that integration not only benefits the EU as a community, but also the individual and her country."

 

Regional director of NHO Trøndelag, former oil and energy minister for the FRP, Thor Lien, is concerned that the EU's policy must be experienced as relevant to the citizens: "In the face of the global climate challenge, but also in the face of digitalisation's distributional challenge, the EU is growing inwards, in the sense that integration is becoming stronger. If the EU is to succeed, it is hardly the right strategy to rush forward to find other solutions to deal with, but rather to prioritize solving the two major challenges, but in such a way that the average citizen in Europe both understands and feels that the EU is relevant to them. When we see both that Donald Trump is elected president, and that the Brexit supporters win a majority, it is partly connected to two of the challenges for Europe that both the previous, and especially this commission has identified as particularly important – digitization and climate."

Thor Lien

According to Lien, the delivery of digital services, in contrast to the production of goods, has a completely different advantage of scale: "'The winner takes it all' has a different content than we have been used to." Companies like Google, Facebook (Meta) and Amazon have, on the one hand, contributed enormously to the growth of the American economy in the years behind us. On the other hand, it has given a few American companies a very heavy position in some European markets. These are also companies that pay their managers very well, far beyond what we are used to in Northern Europe. The owners accumulate sums so enormous that one has to go back to the infancy of industrialization to find anything at all similar to industrial owners in a historical perspective. At the same time, the majority of employees work for wages at far lower levels than has historically been found in the industry both in the USA and in Europe. When the EU is now working to establish good strategies to strengthen competition in these markets, this is important for several reasons. It will potentially help to strengthen the member states' tax revenue, in itself a prerequisite for social fair distribution. It will also make it easier to generate this type of jobs in Europe within the framework of a more fair and regulated working life. A socially just digital shift should therefore be the goal, at the same time that digitization creates new jobs and income and contributes to increased productivity in other European industries."

Lien emphasizes that no European nation-state will be able to manage this on its own: "On the contrary, this must happen at an overall European level, and it must be coordinated between policy areas such as e-com legislation, tax, competence and infrastructure."

EU State of Unione-©DE ANGELIS Marco (Italy)

Climate change

Og Adele Matheson Mestad#, Director at the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights (NIM), assumes that the climate crisis and human rights are the issues that will concern us most in the future: "The climate crisis is the mother of all future problems. Without the necessary emission cuts, global warming will intensify almost all existing challenges, such as security policy, economic security, food security and refugee flows, to name a few. In order to achieve the goal of 1,5 degrees in order to avert the most dangerous climate changes and avoid irreversible tipping points, we are completely dependent on a strong and active Europe that shows the way.

Adele Matheson Mestad

The EU has put in place an ambitious and comprehensive climate policy through the Climate Act, which requires a detailed path to net zero in 2050 with a binding sub-target of a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The "Fit for 55" package, which the commission presented this summer , is an answer to this.

But as history has shown, setting goals is one thing. Quite another thing is to reach them. Who will intervene when goals and cuts are insufficient?»

According to Matheson Mestad, courts can be part of the answer here: "Over 1006 climate cases have been brought worldwide after the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. At least 112 of these are based on human rights. In several of these cases, the courts are asked to decide whether states are cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to protect the right to life, health and property, as courts throughout history have controlled the framework for policy in the face of changing social conditions and new challenges. This is based on the following findings: A damaged climate will lead to more droughts, extreme rainfall, storms, rising seas, heat waves, forest fires, landslides and floods. Human life and property will be lost and drive many to flee. This will affect interests that are at the core of human rights protection. The UN therefore describes climate change as one of the most urgent threats to human rights.

"A damaged climate will lead to more droughts, extreme precipitation, storms, sea level rise, heat waves, forest fires, landslides and floods." Adele Matheson Mestad

One of the central functions of human rights is to protect minorities, who otherwise risk being overrun by a democratic majority. This is perhaps particularly relevant in the climate field. That is because younger and future generations, who are without the right to vote today, will have to endure stronger cuts to their future rights if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced quickly and deeply now. At the same time, legalizing climate issues is no guarantee of generational justice. It is, like so much else, a double-edged sword.”

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Paal Frisvold
Writer for MODERN TIMES on Europe issues.

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