Participation in the Workshop “Unpacking the European Green Deal in light of the 2024 European elections” organized by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, SDG Academy by Amsterdam Sustainable Institute.

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The project is based on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (recommendations signed by the Republic of Serbia), which envisages the introduction of a circular model of the economy, and the aforementioned derives from the Green Agenda of the European Union. Therefore, it is particularly important to have current information about changes, progress and risks in this regard.

The Green Agenda of the European Union was adopted in 2019, with the main goal of making Europe completely climate neutral by 2050.

The implementation of the Green Agenda was aggravated by three major shocks: the Covid-19 pandemic, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the conflict between the People’s Republic of China and the USA. The question arises of the future of the Green Agenda and the commitment of decision makers in the European Union. June 2024 brings elections for the European Parliament, so decision-making and policy in the future will largely depend on the composition of the future legislative body.

The issues to which special attention is paid are agriculture, food, biodiversity and energy.

Namely, agricultural producers in the European Union have repeatedly organized large protests against the Green Agenda. There is a noticeable decrease in the number of agricultural producers, the transition to intensive agriculture and the strengthening of the role of large corporations – which generally leads to consequences that contradict the goals of the Green Agenda.

It was pointed out that, under these circumstances, it is very difficult to preserve the traditional way of agriculture in Europe and that for now there are no adequate solutions to this significant problem.

The participants also pointed to the fact that the Green Agenda is clearly not well formulated, nor is it “green” enough. Namely, the regulations on climate change do not clearly indicate what is not acceptable on that basis, nor are the goals clearly set.

The European Union wants to become independent of fossil fuels (which until now it has mainly imported from Russia), and foresees an increased production of energy from renewable sources. The transition to renewable energy sources is also problematic because it requires the use of rare metals, especially those needed for the production of batteries. An additional problem in this part is the fact that the European Union imports 98% of critical rare materials (which are needed for the above) from China. The European Union wants to reduce this dependence, which is why the European Critical Raw Materials Act was adopted as an umbrella document (https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal/green-deal-industrial-plan/european-critical-raw-materials-act_en ), but there are also problems in its implementation. Namely. reducing import dependence would require the construction of factories in the European Union itself – which is environmentally unacceptable.

On the other hand, Тhe EU Circularity act (https://environment.ec.europa.eu/strategy/circular-economy-action-plan_en ) is considered by the participants to be a well-formulated document, which foresees changes in the work of companies and the behavior of consumers, and can be expected to make a positive contribution to the implementation of the Green Agenda.

The participants commented on the upcoming elections for the European Parliament, and the changes in the attitudes of certain politicians of the European Union, which can threaten the implementation of the Green Agenda.

Project manager prof. Dr. Mirjana Radovanović presented the project and initiated a discussion on the topic of preserving agriculture and rural areas, due to the growing need for the production of batteries for electric cars.