Green Deal, EU Way of Life, Digital Decade: these and other “slogans” increasingly used. What do they mean and how do they shape the future of Europe?

Vocabulary,buzzwords, slogans or “buzzwords

Each planning period thrives on specific priorities, which arise from a long strategic debate and are gradually synthesized into words, or small phrases, used with particular frequency for at least one seven-year period. Many of them (such as, for example, being “smart,” “green,” “innovative,” “sustainable,” or “inclusive”) remain imprinted in the “conceptual heritage” of Europlanners and the European public in the long run. These words, or phrases, are referred to in English as “ buzzwords ” (or “buzz phrases“): a term with significant etymology, recalling simultaneously the concept of “buzz”(bu zz = background sound, indistinct and continuous), but also of “activism”(buzz = particularly dynamic and bubbly atmosphere) and correlation to professional activities(bu zz as “business”). Sometimes these “buzzwords” are overused and lose the richness of their original meaning; but they imply a real buzz around an issue perceived (and addressed) as a priority and are important for working effectively in the world of europlanning. They represent (by definition, and for obvious reasons of communication), the trivialization of a complex concept: but they are the culmination of years (or decades) of debate, the centerpiece of current events in the world of europlanning and the basis for the future of Europe.

The priorities of the 2021-2027 period

Many of these “buzzwords” can be found among the European Commission’s strategic priorities for this period. We talked about this during the presentation of the new Europlanning Guide. There are 6 and they relate to the term of the European Commission under the presidency of Ursula von der Leyen (2019-2024). They can be explored in depth in a variety of policy and preparatory documents(such as this one) and within our general overview of European programs (“info” link devoted to their policy genesis). Each of these priorities is in fact closely linked to the political genesis of major European programs: for example, the correlation between these priorities and programs such as LIFE, Digital Europe, Single Market, External Action, Rights and Values is immediately visible. However, it is equally important to consider their cross-cutting dimension: every program, from the largest to the smallest(we have emphasized this for Horizon Europe, for example), takes up virtually all of them and may have relevance to each of these 6 priorities. Community resources (including those from the “Resilience Device,” or the so-called “Recovery Fund”) focus on them, particularly the first two: “Green Deal” and “Digital Decade.” Knowing these 6 priorities, understanding them, internalizing them, expressing their principles and addressing their challenges in project proposals is very important for those involved in europlanning. Let’s find out about them together!

The European “Green Deal”

The “Green Deal” aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent. It has fundamental practical and symbolic relevance for the future of the Earth. Being first in what is (and must be) the “No. 1 challenge” for the future of humanity also has strategic significance for Europe’s role in the world, politically (leadership) and economically (competitiveness in key technologies). Actions in this area cover a great many areas, for which there are specific strategies and measures: climate, energy, agriculture, industry, environment, transport, regional development, research and innovation.

A Europe ready for the digital age

The European Commission aims to make this decade Europe’s “digital decade”: by strengthening digital sovereignty and security, standards, competitiveness on data, technology and infrastructure (5G and 6G, cloud, artificial intelligence, Big Data, semiconductors, quantum computing, etc.) and digital skills (for the public and private sector). Actions in this area also invest many specific sectors, strategies and measures: artificial intelligence, data, industry, high-performance computing (HPC), digital markets, digital services, cyber security, digital skills, connectivity, digital identity.

An economy that serves people

The EU needs to create a more attractive environment for investment and growth that provides quality jobs, particularly for young people and small businesses. This is not just the revival of a long-standing EU “slogan” (“more and better jobs”) but a real long-term priority on which the EU is being called upon to prove its effectiveness. Specifically, in light of: the Covid-19 crisis response; the adaptation of the economy to a “green” and climate-neutral logic; and the maintenance of social standards, a cornerstone among European values.

A stronger Europe in the world

In an increasingly chaotic world, where the voice of rights, rules, democracy and multilateralism is struggling to be heard, marked by the influence of old and new world and regional powers, it is imperative for the EU to strengthen its role as a “responsible world leader.” Leadership that is expressed in all areas, but most directly in those that carry the EU’s voice in the world: foreign policy, neighborhood and enlargement, international partnerships and aid, trade, security and defense.

Promotion of the European “way of life”

“European values” represent the deep roots of the EU and its future. They permeate the way the EU lives and develops, carries out its agenda and goals in different areas, manifests itself and is experienced by its citizens. Justice, fundamental rights, the rule of law, equality, tolerance and social equity-but also health, security, consumer protection, migration and asylum: these, along with all the others already mentioned, are the “major building sites” that will carry the vision and values of Europe in these years.

New momentum for European democracy

European democracy is characterized by great vibrancy, a complex institutional architecture, and a particular concept of leadership, making it a unique case in history and an example in the world. However, two priorities are coming to the fore with particular urgency in recent years: ensuring a stronger role for European citizens in EU decision-making and priority-setting; and protecting European democracy from external interference (manifested, for example, through disinformation actions and online hate messages).

Priorities in the Structural Funds

A second category of priorities or “watchwords” relates more specifically to the world of the Structural Funds, which are the expression of EU regional policy, that is, the specific contribution of the EU to the development of its territories. The EU regional policy priorities for 2021-2027 have been reduced to five (there were 11 in the previous programming period) and closely follow the European Commission’s six main strategic objectives, described above. The Structural Funds will have a “specialization” based on these priorities (which, however, will not be total, nor exclusive).

To which are added (again in line with the above objectives):

Recall that Italy is not a recipient of the Cohesion Fund (reserved for countries with incomes below 90 percent of the EU average).

The future of Europe

These priorities therefore say a great deal about both the actuality of Europlanning activity and (more generally) the future of Europe. It will be up to our projects to bring about a new Europe in line with these goals – fascinating, important and rightly ambitious.

But that’s not all! All citizens are called, particularly at this time, to “have their say” on the future of Europe. A specific platform allows all citizens to participate in the ongoing debate on the future of Europe. How? We will talk about this in the next post!