We had a suggestion sent in from Maria from Portugal, calling for the EU to implement a “huge investment” in greater energy and resource efficiency. We decided to take this suggestion to a range of policy-makers and politicians, to try to get more than one perspective on the issue. Below are responses from Monica Frassoni, Co-Chair of the European Greens and Joseph Daul, current Chairman of the centre-right European People’s Party.
YES – Monica Frassoni
There must always be a judgement of the quality of the resource. To invest in the productivity of uranium or oil is not a good idea. Much better would be to invest intensively in energy efficiency and renewables; in the sustainable management of our cultural and natural resources; in the “intensity of knowledge” of our peoples….. Europe has to redefine what competitiveness really means today and develop the policies which can implement this new concept, not based on concentration, size, pressure on environment and low wages, but on sustainable innovation.
Monica Frassoni argues “Yes”, the EU should invest in resource efficiency, but with some qualifications. Investing in securing traditional energy resources would be, for her, a mistake. Instead, Frassoni advocates an emphasis on investing in “cultural and natural” resources. We have had several suggestions about shifting Europe’s emphasis away from “growth” and towards a focus on “wellness” and other indicators. Frassoni seems to be an advocate of this approach.
Monica Frassoni is an Italian politician and was co-chair, together with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, of the European Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament until 2009. In 2010, she was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their list of top global thinkers for helping to take Green politics into the mainstream.
NO – Joseph Daul
Huge public investments might miss the point and sink a lot of money. It is probably impossible to cut our dependence on imported energy and raw material to zero. Taking this into account will be an important factor in the European foreign policy, which will have to help ensure a steady supply of energy and raw products. We face the problem that some countries are actively using their exports an instrument of foreign policy, something clearly demonstrated when Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine which then impacted on the energy supply in several EU Member states.
Joseph Daul advocates a free-market approach to the problem. He agrees that resource efficiency is an issue, but feels that excessive interference in the market by the European Union could prove counter-productive. Instead, Daul argues that private companies (along with academic research) are already working independently on solutions, and government should take care to let them get on with it and not interfere. A focus on “wellness” may sound nice, but Daul believes the practical reality is that Europe is likely to remain dependent on external resources and a model of sustained economic growth for the foreseeable future.