With the Communication of 11 December 2019, the EU Commission launched the European Green Deal (EGD), a comprehensive and ambitious strategy aimed at enacting a deep transformation of its economy, as decoupled from resource use. The EGD is an innovative political project and it combines a plurality of techniques, ranging from financing public investments to nudging private initiatives. How do these techniques combine? Are these techniques effective or is their definition and implementation facing obstacles? Are these obstacles technical or political? How does the role of public powers change in the EGD, from a traditional regulatory paradigm? What is the impact of the EGD on the EU social model? The EGD has the potential of marking a substantial change in the evolution of EU integration, from the emergency perspective within which it has evolved in the last decade; however, the answers to these questions have a radical impact on such potential.
From the EU Taxonomy to the upcoming CSRD, the European Union has undertaken to rebuild financial regulation to make financial flows consistent with the transition to a sustainable economy as mandated by the Paris Agreement. This unprecedented exercise in overhauling financial law through the lens of sustainability has been progressing rapidly, jostling the routine of market actors and regulators alike. Yet, the way forward presents key challenges for the achievement of these reforms. The first one is the identification of the objective that the reformed EU financial regulation must ultimately pursue: sustainability at large or responding to the climate emergency. The second challenge is one of coherence of the reform, as the EU has until now proceeded with a piecemeal approach. Finally, implementation and enforcement are the next critical step that awaits the EU and for which the European System of Financial Supervision is ill-prepared.
In several recent decisions, from the Dutch Urgenda case to the decision of the BVerfG on the German Climate Change Law, national courts have occupied centre stage on climate change policy discussions. The types of legal claims made range from Constitutional Law and fundamental rights to private law. National judges have the potential to become allies of citizens and NGOs in the construction and enforcement of ambitious climate change policies. Even though climate change is an international issue, the same level of success was not achieved so far in international courts and para-jurisdictional bodies. This means that the remedies available in national law have come to be used to fill the gaps in judicial protection against inaction in this scope. However, the dawn of unilateral judicial interferences in environmental policy also raises concerns over the institutional legitimacy of the decisions and the alleged breach of separation of powers.