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Green, Greener, Green Deal?

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen described the Green Deal as “Europe’s man on the moon moment”. The Green Deal is the Commission’s concept with the overarching aim of making Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. This may sound like a big chance for Europe, but could also turn out to be a massive economic burden – especially for Europe’s SMEs.

Overall, von der Leyen started her term in 2019 with the ambition to make Europe a geopolitical pioneer in the fight against climate change. The plan of the Green Deal is to review each existing law on its climate merits, and to introduce new legislation. And this will not only affect the prominent sectors under fire as the automobile industry – it will also affect the pharmaceutical industry. These initiatives can be found for instance in the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability and the circular economy. The Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment and several flagships of the Pharmaceutical Strategy shall help to achieve the objectives.

The ecological transformation of the economy and society is unavoidable. The Green Deal addresses many issues at the same time. It is important to pay attention to consistency and feasibility, as well as to prioritise and regularly review the goals that have been set. The desired change will only succeed with a strong, innovative and competitive pharmaceutical industry. Hence, the Green Deal must also be understood by the Commission as an instrument to increase innovative strength and competitiveness. In this context, market-based impulses should primarily enable technological progress. And it is therefore important that the Green Deal is well coordinated with other European Commission strategies - such as the Industrial Strategy and the Pharmaceutical Strategy.

With the (still ongoing) COVID-19 pandemic spreading rapidly within the European Union, the focus on the European Green Deal diminished. The financial market being under immense stress along with a reduction in economic activity became a factor threatening to derail the European Green Deal. Several European politicians and industry representatives suggested a pause or a complete discontinuation of the deal. According to them, tackling the ongoing crises rather than climate change should be the main focus during the ongoing pandemic. Hence, is it the right timing? What we know for sure is that the elephant is in the room already.

However, we need to keep in mind: The economic consequences of the Corona pandemic will have a serious effect on European companies’ for years to come. Therefore, additional burdens stemming from the Green Deal should be avoided as far as possible and industry should be supported more strongly than originally planned. For only a strong industry can support and pave the way for the ambitious goals. The long-term effect on investment and employment will remain, and thus the pharmaceutical industry will need to address the opportunities and challenges presented by the Commission’s proposal.

In order to do so, we want to invite our members to a dialogue: on April 27, the BPI hosts its information day around environmental activities- we will not only focus on the EU, but also on a national level. With several experts such as from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, we want to clarify ambiguities and talk about what the pharmaceutical sector has to expect.

Au travail!


Kontakt: Teresa Vázquez López (Büro Brüssel),