Ten EU countries urge bloc to pursue ‘green’ coronavirus recovery

Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and six other countries urged the European Union to adopt a “green” recovery plan on Thursday, as fears grow that the economic hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic could weaken action on climate change.

In an open letter published as European finance ministers met by video conference, 10 environment and climate ministers said any rescue package should support the European Commission’s Green Deal strategy to embrace a low-carbon future.

“We need to send a strong political signal to the world and our citizens that the EU will lead by example even in difficult times like the present and blaze the trail to climate neutrality and the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement,” the letter said, referring to a landmark 2015 accord to tackle climate change.

The other countries to sign the letter were Austria, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Latvia and Luxembourg.

Germany and France, the two biggest economies in the 27-country bloc, were not among the signatories.

EU leaders agreed last month that the bloc’s coronavirus economic recovery plan should be consistent with the “green transition”, but did not pledge specific measures.

The 10 countries want to see increased investment to support renewable energy, sustainable transport, energy efficiency and other steps to back the EU Green Deal’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“The Green Deal constitutes a new growth strategy for the EU, which is able to deliver on the twin benefits of stimulating economies and creating jobs while accelerating the green transition in a cost efficient way,” the letter said.

It encouraged countries to steer away from short-term solutions in response to the pandemic “that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come.”