Tomorrow, the European Parliament will elect its new president. As the cases of Omicron spike around Europe, ensuring European solidarity in the face of the new strain will be one of the new president’s top challenges. The sudden death of David Sassoli, praised for keeping the parliament running during the crisis, leaves big shoes to fill.
Aside from COVID-19, the new president will also need to ensure that the European Parliament takes a pro-consumer, pro-innovation evidence-based approach to several other pressing issues. In line with the goals set out in the European Green New Deal, these, among others, include sustainability of agriculture and energy cost-efficiency. Other significant areas of attention and consideration should be digital and the sharing economy.
Agriculture and sustainability
The EU Farm to Fork strategy is an ambitious attempt to make agriculture in the EU and globally–through trade policy—sustainable. However, cutting the use of pesticides and fertilisers by 50 per cent, as proposed, will not achieve these goals. Instead, the F2F will result in high consumer prices and reduced food production. The F2F will take crucial crop protection tools away from farmers, leaving them unprepared for the next virus. The black market in pesticides, which is already flourishing in the EU, will undoubtedly seize this opportunity.
The EU shouldn’t restrict the farmers’ freedom to use the preferred crop protection tools to avoid these unintended consequences. Alternatively, the EU should consider enabling genetic modification in the EU.
To learn more about our stance on agriculture and sustainability, check out our policy paper Sustainable Agriculture, available here.
The European Union remains unjustifiably cautious about nuclear energy. Nuclear is a low-carbon source of energy and an affordable source of energy. It would enable a decarbonised electricity grid. In addition, nuclear can support decarbonised heat and hydrogen production, which can be used as an energy source for hard-to-decarbonise sectors.
The latest IEA and OECD NEA report entitled ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity 2020’ confirms that the long-term operation of nuclear power plants remains the cheapest source of electricity. Furthermore, nuclear is much less vulnerable to price fluctuations, a key point at a time when energy prices are escalating.
To learn more about our stance on nuclear, check out CCC’s Open Letter on Climate Change by our Managing Director Fred Roeder, available here.
In January 2021, the European Commission presented the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). DMA aims to restrict the market behaviour of big tech giants by introducing a series of ex-ante regulations. However, the current approach lacks nuance and risks hurting the competition in the EU digital market and the EU’s global competitiveness. Instead of going after the success of the high tech companies, the European Union should instead focus on making it easier for smaller European enterprises to operate. One step in that direction would, for example, be to abandon the audiovisual directive, which prevents small and medium enterprises from scaling-up.
To learn more about our stance on the EU digital policies, check out our New Consumer Agenda 2020, available here.
The future resilience of the European Union will be determined by the policy choices made today. It is pivotal that the new president of the European Parliament becomes a champion of innovation, consumer choice, and evidence-based policymaking.
Written by Maria Chaplia and Luca Bertoletti