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Making sense of the EU’s ambitions: Green and Digital ‘twin’ transitions

The European Union is aiming to take the lead in the fight against climate change and at the same time enabling the European landscape to become more ready for the future. The green and digital transitions are at the core of what establishes funding sources, how these funds are utilised and the anticipated impact of projects.

Published : 11.01.2022

The European Union is aiming to take the lead in the fight against climate change and at the same time enabling the European landscape to become more digitally aware, skilled and ready for the future.

The European commission sees the importance of enabling the twin transitions of green and digital innovations as being dependent on each other to advance the EUs shift to a zero carbon economy. This is also at the heart of the EU’s post-COVID recovery strategy.

The role of these transitions can be witnessed throughout current EU policy and future frameworks. The green and digital transitions are at the core of what establishes funding sources, how these funds are utilised and the anticipated impact of projects. All of which should be viewed through the prism of these transitions.

But what are these green and digital transitions and what role do they play when planning a project? In order to answer this question it is important to begin with a transformative set of policy initiatives that was launched by the European Commission in 2019 to make the EU climate neutral by 2050, these initiatives form The Green Deal.

Towards a climate neutral EU

The Green Deal is expansive in its reach and complicated in its comprehension, however, it is fundamentally a growth strategy to transition the EU to a sustainable economic model. The founding principle and overall objective of the green deal is to enable the EU to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050.

The results of achieving this admirable goal will be a cleaner environment, more affordable energy, smarter transport, new jobs and skills, and an overall better quality of life. As part of the Green Deal at least 1 trillion euros will be invested in sustainable actions. This includes 8 key actions that will provide the substance to achieve the goals. This is just the start of the process and future initiatives will be forthcoming, but for now the green deal represents a true statement of intent by the EU and provides direction for future initiatives.

The Green transition

The Green transition consists of those methods and means that will essentially aim to fulfill the goals of the Green Deal. In order to achieve these goals the EU has revised its current legislation related to climate, energy and transport related policies and this revision took the form of the Fit for 55 package. Adopted in 2021, this package refers to reducing the net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) and also provides a balanced framework in reaching the EUs climate objectives.

The package covers a lot of ground in its scope. In particular it will ensure a just and fair social transition to these changes, through the Just Transition Fund (a new instrument of the Cohesion policy, 2021-2027) while maintaining and strengthening the innovative nature of the EU and underpinning the role of the EU as a leader in the fight against climate change.

The green transition forms an alternative vision for growth and development. By doing so it endeavors to foster economic development and improvements in people’s lives while also advancing the fight against climate change and increasing social well-being.

The Digital transition

Digital solutions are seen as the key tools in fighting climate change. They go hand in hand in achieving the green transition and only when complimenting each other can they identify the new means and methods to reach the heights of the Green Deal.

Putting people first and ensuring that businesses can achieve their new potential while also ensuring that the transition works for everyone, is at the core of the digital transition’s actions.

It is envisioned that through the utilisation of digital innovations there will be new opportunities for businesses, enabling a more sustainable economy, fostering an open and democratic society and ultimately helping to fight climate change and achieve the green transition.

To this end, the European Commission has made the commitment to deliver a Europe fit for the digital age with this decade becoming Europe’s Digital Decade. By doing so it empowers people, business and administration with a new generation of technologies. These new technologies will lead to the transformation of the digital landscape in the EU and will ultimately benefit everyone.

Facilitating these transitions in your project

Fundamentally this is an oversimplification of one the largest and most ambitious initiatives ever conceived by the EU. The role of these transitions needs to always be placed firmly in the context of the funding instrument, the instruments overriding framework, related policies and programme guide.

However, gaining an overview of these twin transitions, and the role they play in achieving the Green Deal, will direct the logic of your proposal so it resonates clearly with the higher-level goals of the EU.

Whether your project is funded by Horizon Europe, Erasmus+ or another source, it is foremost that your idea connects directly with the goals of the programme. Take the time to study the programme guide or call text, to fully come to terms with the scope of the task that your project will aim to address.

Simultaneously consider the implications of your project through the view of the twin transitions and create innovative methods and solutions that coupled with your idea, can produce a truly innovative and impactful proposal.

At the heart of the Green Deal is the motivation to enable Europeans to be the facilitators of change in the fight against climate change. The twin transitions offer the tools and directives that will drive the innovation necessary to meet these goals; however, the solutions lie in the imaginations and creativity of project creators to unlock these future innovations and achieve the goals of the Green Deal.