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Europe’s Climate Quandary

The European Union aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and establish itself as a global leader in green industries while maintaining fiscal discipline. But accomplishing these objectives simultaneously is impossible, and the bloc must decide what it is willing to sacrifice.

WASHINGTON, DC – As Europe sets its sights on becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral continent, it must perform a delicate balancing act. Can the European Union transform its economy while enhancing its competitiveness? And can it achieve these goals while maintaining its status as a shaper of global standards and adhering to its principles of fiscal responsibility?

The answer to these questions is a resounding no. Trade-offs are unavoidable, and identifying the concessions required to strike the right balance could prove more challenging than policymakers may think.

In 2019, when the EU unveiled its Green Deal and pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, its primary goal was to bolster the 2015 Paris climate agreement and help limit greenhouse-gas emissions. But policymakers had a second, clearly defined objective: to turn the EU into a green industrial leader. This is why European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the policy framework as Europe’s “man on the moon moment.”

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