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A pause on new EU directives would hurt us

Friedrich Merz and Daniel Caspary recently called for a “moratorium on burdens”: Because of the war of aggression against Ukraine, now is not the time for new EU legislative proposals that would increase the pressure on the European economy and small and medium-sized businesses.

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A pause on new EU directives would hurt us

Friedrich Merz and Daniel Caspary recently called for a “moratorium on burdens”: Because of the war of aggression against Ukraine, now is not the time for new EU legislative proposals that would increase the pressure on the European economy and small and medium-sized businesses. In this article, we would like to explain why the opposite is the case and provide four reasons why ambitious EU legislation will get us out of the crisis faster.

First, the two colleagues from the CDU are confusing cause and effect. One of the reasons why the current crises have reached such dramatic proportions is that in the past we did not push ahead with the green transformation of our economy with enough determination. The EU Green Deal is now more necessary than ever.

For years, the governments under Angela Merkel overslept the energy transition. The result: Our continued dependence on fossil fuels has triggered the current energy crisis. The Green Deal will take us out of this trap.

For years, conservatives have been pursuing an agricultural policy that, under the maxim “grow or soften”, has not only resulted in farm deaths, but also in the high use of pesticides, soil degradation and lower yields. The result: our dependence on soy imports for factory farming instead of real food sovereignty through regional value creation. This is exactly where the Green Deal comes in.

Therefore we are of the opinion: The rapid expansion of renewable energies, the ban on poisons, laws for clean soil, the criminalization of environmental crimes and laws for clean air are part of the solution, not the problem. The quoted motto "Go big on the big things, small on the small things" reveals what Merz and Caspary see as climate protection and the sustainable restructuring of our economy: as a nice-to-have when we have time for it.

The fight against the climate crisis is the central question for the future competitiveness of our economy, securing our prosperity and, yes, the survival of mankind. Especially in times of multiple crises, there can be no "business as usual". Now more than ever is the time to redouble our efforts, advance the Green Deal and make our continent carbon neutral a reality.

Secondly, we ask ourselves what the two CDU politicians actually mean by "small"? For example, we have just decided in the European Parliament on the uniform charging cable. In the categories in which Merz and Caspary think, that might be small. But if thousands of tons of electronic waste are saved and we reduce our dependence on autocracies for raw materials, such a law is an important building block in European strategic autonomy.

Is it a "small" law that can now be put off when we create the first global law to regulate social media platforms in the EU? If we fight hate, hate speech and disinformation online, where Putin's army of trolls is currently benefiting from non-existent rules? That is exactly the strength of the EU, that we are promoting the integration of our continent in small steps and solving cross-border problems.

Third, we find that our companies benefit when sustainability becomes the norm, when it becomes the foundation of their business model. If products and services Made in Europe stand for safety, quality and low emissions all over the world, they have a global competitive advantage, because "green" products are more and more in demand. It is our job as the EU to set the political framework and give our companies the legal certainty they need.

In the automotive industry, we didn't read the signs of the times early enough. This is our disadvantage today. Forward-looking rules in a market as large as the EU can set the tone worldwide and, precisely because of this, make our companies global frontrunners. And that's what we want to be in order to be competitive now, but also in the future.

More and more companies are already on this transformation path and we must support them in achieving our shared sustainability goals. More and more companies have been preparing for the Green Deal for years and want planning security – so it would be counterproductive to turn around now.

Fourth: The supply chain law and recently also the import ban on products from forced labor just proposed by the Commission are cited as a “moratorium on stress”. We think that's cynical. Poverty and the situation of workers in developing countries have deteriorated rapidly, especially during the pandemic.

There are now almost 28 million people in forced labor around the world. Do we really want to play off new rules for companies against the rights of these people? As the European Union, that cannot be our claim. Rather, our aim must be to see the connections: the climate crisis potentiates the other.

Anna Cavazzini is Chair of the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament. Terry Reintke is leader of the Greens in the European Parliament.

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