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European Elections 2024: Analysis of the path taken and current context

The European Union presents a mixed picture in its annual report on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, and the European elections leave many doubts about the next steps of community policy in terms of sustainability and development.

Progress in sustainability of the European Union

In the last five years, the European Union has shown significant progress on several sustainable development goals. In particular, it has made notable progress in three SDGs, while in others it has recorded moderate improvements. The EU stands out especially in the area of decent work and economic growth, reaching historic figures in 2022. In addition, it has made significant progress in the fight against poverty and in achieving gender equality.

  • SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth The employment rate reached an all-time high, with three in four people employed, and long-term unemployment fell to the lowest level on record. These achievements underline the strength of the European labor market.

  • SDG 1: End of poverty Although poverty levels have remained stable, the number of people able to cover their basic needs has increased, reflecting an improvement in the quality of life.

  • SDG 5: Gender equality Women's wages have increased and the gender gap in care is closing, although more effort is still required to achieve parity. Conciliation and co-responsibility are key issues today.

  • SDG 10: Reduction of inequalities The gap between the richest and the poorest, as well as between rural and urban areas and between countries, has been reduced in the last five years. This progress is essential for a more equitable society.

  • SDG 4: Quality education Quality education has shown positive developments, with an increase in adult education and improved performance among students.

Despite these advances, the European Union faces significant challenges in several SDGs, where progress has been moderately favorable but still at risk of regression. Among these are:

  • SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation Although more households have access to water, its quality has decreased due to contaminants, and scarcity and exploitation of the resource are increasing.

  • SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy Although improvements in energy efficiency are expected, energy consumption increased considerably in 2021. However, energy productivity and the proportion of renewable energies have shown increases.

  • SDG 13: Climate Action The EU has reduced its net CO2 emissions by 30% since 1990, but further acceleration is required in the coming years due to climate instability and stagnation in the number of signatories to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

  • SDG 15: Life and ecosystems on land Although forest area has increased, concentrations of pollutants in rivers and pressures on soils have led to a negative assessment of the conservation status of ecosystems and biodiversity.

  • SDG 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goals Imports and internet access have increased, but EU financing to developing countries has decreased, as has the debt-to-GDP ratio.

In this context, European Union leaders face weeks of intense negotiations to agree on the distribution of key senior positions in the community institutions before the end of June. This evaluation highlights both the achievements and the remaining challenges on the path towards comprehensive sustainable development.

Positions of Political Parties on Sustainability

The 2024 European elections have been a crucial event in determining the direction of sustainability policy in the EU. The main political parties have presented their proposals regarding renewable energy and sustainability. Each party offers different approaches and solutions:

  • European People's Party (EPP) The EPP promotes investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, advocating for a just transition that supports regions and workers affected by the shift to a green economy.

  • European Socialist Party (PES) The PES focuses on a green economy with massive investments in renewable energy and clean technologies, proposing a European fund for solar energy projects and climate justice policies.

  • Renew Europe Renew Europe focuses on technological innovation and sustainable development, proposing tax incentives and support for research into new clean energy technologies.

  • Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) The Greens/EFA advocate a rapid transition to an energy system completely based on renewable energy by 2050, with strict environmental protection and social and climate justice policies.

Each party is now in a strategic game to secure its influence in the negotiations that will determine the future leaders of the main EU institutions. These leaders will be instrumental not only in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, but also in guiding the European Union through the economic, social and environmental challenges ahead.

Election Results and New Parliament Configuration

The 2024 European elections have shown a rightward shift in Europe, with the European People's Party (EPP) obtaining the largest number of seats and remaining the leading community force. The Alliance of European Socialists and Democrats (S&D) resists despite losing MEPs.

The Green bloc has suffered a significant loss of seats, falling from fourth to sixth place. In contrast, right-wing and far-right groups have gained presence, reflecting a growing denialist trend around the 2030 Agenda and the fight against climate change.

The heads of State and Government of the European Union face weeks of negotiations with the aim of agreeing on the distribution of key senior positions in the community institutions before the end of June. This agreement must respect ideological, geographical and gender balances, but also take into account the result of the elections to the European Parliament in which Ursula von der Leyen's European People's Party has emerged as the most voted force.

At the moment, Von der Leyen is the only candidate with real possibilities who has openly campaigned to preside over the European Commission in the next legislature, in what would be her second term at the head of the community Executive.

The evolution of sustainability policies in the European Union will depend on how these political dynamics are managed and the ability of the parties to find a balance between economic growth, technological innovation and environmental protection.

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