• Dimitar Lilkov Economy Green Deal Sustainability

    EIF 21 Panel 1 – European Sustainable Economic Recovery: This Time It’s Different?

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    29 Jun 2021

  • Green Deal Middle Class Sustainability

    Net@Work Day 3 – Panel 2: The Green Deal and the Middle Class

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    21 Apr 2021

  • Dimitar Lilkov Green Deal Sustainability

    Net@Work Day 2 – Panel 2: Transition to a Smart Green Europe

    Live-streams - Multimedia

    20 Apr 2021

  • During the last decade of perma-crisis in Europe, we started to believe in our own impending demise. Suddenly there was money for nothing, China was chomping at our heels and our demographics were catastrophic. All that was left was a long, slow inevitable decline into global insignificance. Fast forward to 2019 and a similar vista appears, this time with the added bonus of catastrophic climate change.  Now Europe teeters on the brink of another economic downturn.

    These challenges, while serious and real, can be addressed by a long-term policy reorientation. But to adequately respond to the issue of climate change and to effectively project European interests on a global stage Europe must combat the one issue which is its biggest impediment. Europe needs to remember that thinking big isn’t a crime. Europe needs to understand that investing for the long term is a vital part of economic planning.

    Take the environment. The airline industry is one of the largest sources of global Co2 emissions. Yet, notwithstanding the relative proximity of many of Europe’s main urban centres, high-speed rail in Europe remains “an ineffective patchwork of lines without a realistic long-term plan”. EU funding of 23.7 billion euro in co-funding for high-speed lines since 2000 is minuscule when compared to support levels for other transport modes. At a European level, the overall picture remains one of isolated national systems and incomplete domestic programmes.

    Yet, the environmental benefits of high-speed rail are obvious. The development of high-speed networks in France, and more recently in Italy and Spain, have significantly reduced domestic air travel and resulted in reliable transport links between many major cities. Cross-border services – most notably the Eurostar connecting London to Paris/Brussels and Thalys linking Paris to Amsterdam (via Brussels) have become important transport arteries.

    So why then the implied reluctance – at both a national and European level – to place high-speed rail at the centre of the EU response to fighting climate change? One reason is the economics of high-speed rail. Such developments are, by their very nature, expensive to construct,  the time taken for such lines to become operational can be substantial (often a decade or more) and during this time they are constantly being subjected to negative media and economic analyses.

    China built a comprehensive high-speed rail network in little more than a decade. 

    Consider both the proposed Lyon-Turin and London-Birmingham (HS2) rail links. The considerable opprobrium heaped on these projects relates mostly to cost. Unrealistic initial budgets (often required to gain political support for commencement) are used by opponents as an economic basis for seeking to halt the project.  But cost-benefit analyses are, by their very nature, only based on a set of quantitative assumptions regarding issues such as construction costs and passenger numbers. 

    The traditional economic analysis ignores wider societal and environmental benefits. In addition, both of these projects also seek to achieve important strategic economic objectives in terms of improving cross border mobility (Lyon-Turin) and tacking increasing regional inequalities (London-Birmingham).

    Often expensive (and they are very expensive) high-speed rail projects find it difficult to attract consistent political support. Welded to an election cycle governments find it difficult to coherently develop plans for high-speed rail lines that may take decades to become fully operational. This equates, in many politicians eyes, to decades of considerable government spending without any discernible impact on their re-election prospects.

    China built a comprehensive high-speed rail network in little more than a decade. In Europe, proposals for new, or even for upgraded lines, can languish for decades in planning hell.

    To counter this reality, the EU should be the perfect mechanism for ensuring consistent financial support for these long term investment projects. The EU should significantly increase co-funding for an earmarked list of strategic priority projects. For example, the approximate 500km distance between Berlin and Munich still takes a minimum of 4 hours to complete by rail.

    Likewise, the 400km trip between Brussels and Frankfurt requires a journey time in excess of 3 hours. These train journey times are not sufficient to alter many passengers travel habits regarding short-hop airline flights. Up to 8-10 flights still leave Brussels for Frankfurt (and vice versa) on a daily basis. 

    Given the current climate crisis, and Europe’s wish to lead the response, this situation is clearly unsustainable. Tackling climate change is a very expensive business. Europe needs to hop aboard this high-speed train before it leaves the station.

    Eoin Drea Economy Energy EU Member States Industry Sustainability

    Eoin Drea

    To tackle climate change Europe needs to embrace high-speed rail


    02 Sep 2019

  • The Nord Stream 2 project aims to double the capacity Russia currently possesses for delivering natural gas directly to Germany through the Baltic Sea. This paper provides an overview of the current developments surrounding the project and of opposition to  the  pipeline  by  the  European  Commission  and  a  growing number of EU member states. It goes on to analyse the risks involved  in  the  new  gas  infrastructure  and  argues  that  Nord Stream 2 would be detrimental to the energy security of a number of Central and Eastern European member states and of Ukraine. 

    The  paper  contends  that  while  the  pipeline  offers  uncertain economic gains, it would dangerously weaken the EU’s strategic goals in Eastern Europe, disrupt the European Energy Security Strategy and damage member state unity. Ultimately, the new German government should recognise this and take the necessary measures to stop Nord Stream 2. 

    Energy EU-Russia Neighbourhood Policy Sustainability

    European Energy Security: The Case Against Nord Stream 2


    13 Apr 2018

  • President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, albeit predictable, presents both challenges and opportunities for the global system of multilevel governance. Various stakeholders are ready to fill the void, including other world leaders, such as the EU, and in particular Germany; US state actors, such as California; and even cities and businesses. Whatever the outcome, the reaffirmed joint commitment to implementing the climate targets is good news for the planet.

    Read the full article in the December 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Eva Palacková Environment Globalisation Leadership Sustainability Transatlantic

    Eva Palacková

    The race for climate leadership in the era of Trump and multilevel governance


    02 Nov 2017

  • Most of the refugees arriving in Europe are fleeing civil war and unrest. However, it is important to recognise how the second-order effects of climate change—which can undermine agriculture and increase competition for water and food resources—are contributing to instability and decisions to migrate.

    While migratory decisions are complex, climate change is an increasingly important contributing factor: it is threatening humanity’s shared interests and collective security in many parts of the world. The cumulative effects of these trends have serious implications for the stability of nations that lack sufficient resources, good governance and the resilience to respond.

    While there is a need for greater understanding of the detailed causes of migration, as well as the associated economic and political instability, a growing body of evidence links climate change, migration and conflict in troubling ways.

    Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.

    Michael Werz Max Hoffman Environment Migration Security Sustainability

    Michael Werz

    Max Hoffman

    Europe’s twenty-first century challenge: climate change, migration and security


    03 May 2016

  • The recent financial and economic crisis has exacerbated the funding shortfalls of Europe’s public pension systems. However, although the ageing of Europe’s population is a general trend observable in all member states, its scale and timing will impact differently on a national level. By analysing demographic trends and utilising a case study approach, this research highlights the challenges facing national pension systems in the years ahead.

    Politically, it will be on the basis of national preferences that further pension system reform will occur in the future. With this in mind, it is too narrow-minded to take a solely fisc al perspective from which to develop European reform strategies which meet the requirements for both fiscal balance and sustainable public pension systems. Therefore, the EU should support national reform strategies by monitoring public pension reforms as well as improving the single market.

    However, public pension policy should remain a national competence. In addition, the examples of the Italian and British case studies highlight that long term pension reform should be innovative and involve public, occupational and private elements.

    Economy Macroeconomics Social Policy Sustainability

    Live Long and Prosper? Demographic Change and Europe’s Pensions Crisis

    Research Papers

    10 Nov 2015

  • The Ukraine crisis has reignited debate in Europe surrounding the EU’s lack of a fully functioning single energy market.  It has brought home to all member states the general need for a more coordinated energy policy, even though they may differ on aspects of what needs to be done.  This research highlights that integration of the internal single energy market should still be the EU’s main instrument to reach its three goals of cost competitiveness, security and emission reduction. 

    A roadmap for completing the single energy market is proposed based on a harmonised EU-wide system of renewable energy subsidies and significant infrastructure investment in many Central and East European member states.  These smart investments would form part of a coherent, long-term investment plan for the European energy sector and would enable these member states to improve their energy security through greater investment in gas storage and interconnectors. 

    The goals of energy security, affordability and sustainability have never been higher on the EU’s agenda. All three goals would be served if Europe truly unified its energy market. National leaders have it in their hands to complete this slow and difficult integration process, if they can just summon up the necessary political will to do so.

    Energy Renewable Energy Resources Security Sustainability

    Refuelling Europe: A Roadmap for completing the Single Energy Market

    Research Papers

    22 Dec 2014

  • The period since the outbreak of the financial, economic and social crises in Europe has witnessed a renewed focus on the need to develop a more sustainable and qualitative growth model. A model where the traditional focus on economic growth (i.e. GDP growth) is complemented by an adherence to a wider range of qualitative indicators. Indicators which more broadly characterise the well-being of society as a whole. This paper defines a model for Sustainable and Qualitative Growth (SQG) in the EU and questions if existing EU economic and social governance arrangements are consistent with this wider approach to building a sustainable growth model. This paper identifies a number of key recommendations. First, a more encompassing, balanced and multi-dimensional EU strategy for growth should be adopted. This refined strategy should take into account the broader indicators underpinning the SQG model and should be addressed in key EU documents such as the Annual Growth Survey. Second, a symmetric and ‘time consistent’ macroeconomic strategy, allowing for investments in SQG related domains, should be pursued. These growth-enhancing investments should primarily target relevant policy areas such as education and training, technological innovation and lifelong learning strategies. Third, a common automatic stabiliser in the EU should be set up in order to provide a minimum level of EU investment across all member states.

    Crisis Economy Growth Sustainability

    A Model for Implementing Sustainable and Qualitative Growth in the EU

    Research Papers

    02 Jun 2014

  • A random Google search for ‘sustainable development’ scores over 220 million search results. The world is talking about sustainability. From financial and economic policies to baby diapers – it could all be branded as sustainable (and it is). This has almost turned sustainability to a cliché.

    Sustainability, however, isn’t about things. It all comes down to individual behaviour that ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (the Brundtland Commission, 1980s). Currently, unsustainability is a lifestyle. The environment and resources serve us here and now without a long-run perspective. The unsustainable economic model collapsed and burdened future generations with the consequences. And societal challenges such as demography, employment, education and skills are undermining the stability of our communities.

    The big question is how to establish the sustainable mind-set and encourage sustainable behaviour in order to turn away from unsustainability. A very good answer is through the process of education. Higher education has a major role in shaping individuals because it is a transition period to real life. Higher education institutions (HEIs) facilitate personal development and change. Universities form micro communities where institutional environment could foster creativity, productivity, social responsibility and environmental awareness. On the one hand, university campuses have the potential to become a model for environmental, social and economic sustainability. On the other hand, students bring along high motivation, energy and fresh thinking. Thus, higher education is a stable platform for ideas that belong to younger generations.

    The challenges:

    The idea of sustainability relates to HEIs in a simple twofold way. One vector is the concept of a sustainable university. The second vector covers the idea of integrating sustainability in the actual curricula. However, there is a catch – a list of pending obstacles to sustainability is to be ticked off:

    • The risk of running sustainability as a marketing technique. Words and phrases that have to do with sustainable have become taglines. Simply put, painting a building green does not make it sustainable.
    • Limiting the perception to an environmental concept only, excluding the two other pillars – society and economy.
    • Introducing sustainability in higher education curricula requires plenty of efforts for HEIs and a small number of them are willing to invest time and money in it.
    • Sustainability principles are not compulsory for HEIs and their curricula. Thus, some HEIs are true pioneers in the field while a large group of the organisations lag behind.
    • 40 years after Stockholm Earth Summit in 1972 no sustainability strategy is being implemented in the field of higher education. Thus, there is no path to follow and no strategic approach in setting goals and measuring their implementation and impact.
    • UN’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005 has not influenced significantly policy making at EU level due to the fact that higher education is still heavily dependent on strictly national policies and 28 different policies are implemented.


    Despite the fact that the Europe 2020 strategy has set a target to achieve sustainability, a limited range of tools is available when it comes to higher education. The variety of crises (financial, economic and debt crises) that clouded over the EU made the process of introducing sustainability to higher education even slower.

    The idea of sustainable development is a horizontal process that involves different governmental agencies and levels of governance – local, national, and European. Sustainability is a bottom-up process and it requires commitment and leadership. This is why all stakeholders should equally contribute to achieving the goal.

    The long-term outcome from integrating sustainability in the higher education is the establishment of a mind-set and values that will be embedded in all fields of our lives. Through education, our social, economic and environmental behaviour could become sustainable by default.


    To higher education institutions:

    • Include the three pillars of sustainability in the organisations’ mission statements and strategic goals.
    • The sustainable development education requires multidiscipline approach. Instead of being a separate isolated subject (where it exists), it has to be an integrated part of large number of subjects such as economics, finance, strategic management, human resources management, engineering, medicine, etc.
    • Introduce sustainability policies based on standard frameworks such as the Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14000 / ISO 14001. The framework should focus on several aspects – facilities, waste, transportation, energy, administration, etc.
    • Develop sustainable campuses because they create a micro environment capable of shifting students’ mind-sets. More HEIs should establish sustainability information desks/centres at their campuses in order to generate further interest among students.
    • Form partnerships on sustainability with local governments, businesses, NGOs and foundations. This will provide access to additional research capacity and funding.
    • Aim at project-based learning and practical involvement in sustainability initiatives. Universities could recruit volunteers among the students who have good knowledge on sustainability. They could form groups for generating sustainability ideas, activities and cause a snowball effect for many other students.

    To the EU member states:

    • Focus on translating sustainability to HEIs and students so they could “buy” the idea. Currently there is no big demand for sustainability, since most of the HEIs and students do not appreciate the benefits of it. Universities consider it a burdensome budget item.
    • The EU Member States should be encouraged to bind accreditation and evaluation of higher education institutions to sustainable development. A special set of criteria could be established that would influence the accreditation and ranking of HEIs.
    • The 2014-2020 programming period should play a vital role in funding schemes for sustainable development in higher education through operational programmes at national level.
    • Funding for public HEIs should include sustainability research grants, awarded for sustainability projects. Budgeting should shift to performance based, taking into consideration sustainability criteria.

    To the European Commission:

    • The next European Commission should work even closer with the member states to achieve a harmonised approach in integrating sustainability in higher education across the EU.

    Kalin Zahariev Education Environment Sustainability

    Kalin Zahariev

    Sustainability? Teach them how!


    29 Jan 2014

  • The cost of health service is going to rise a great deal in coming years.This is due to the ageing of the population and to the cost of medical treatments at the end of people’s lives. Rising incomes in society also lead to higher expectations of health services and higher pay costs within the health service. Advances in medical technology make better treatments available, but these treatments are often costlier than the (less effective) treatments they replace.


    But there are choices that can be made. For example, on certain assumptions, a McKinsey study suggested that the cost of the health service in Ireland in 2040 could range between 10% of GDP and 18%, depending on policy choices. In the UK the range is between 11% and 14% of its GDP, and the range in the US is between 24% and 26%.


    What can be done to contain costs? I saw a report of a British NHS report on Accident and Emergency visits which suggested:

    + one million of the 5.2 million annual visits to A and E were avoidable
    +40% of patients who visit A and E are discharged needing no treatment at all
    + 50% of Ambulance call outs could be managed at the scene without going to hospital
    + 20% of GP consultations could be dealt with by self care or a visit to a pharmacy

    These statistics suggest that there is plenty of room to encourage people to learn more about looking after their own health. The challenge is to devise policies that incentivise this in a responsible way.

    John Bruton Economy Social Policy Sustainability

    John Bruton

    Must the cost of healthcare go on rising inexorably?


    21 Nov 2013

  • Vít Novotný Crisis Economy Growth Sustainability

    Vít Novotný

    From Reform to Growth – Managing the Economic Crisis in Europe


    05 Nov 2013

  • The EU Summit last week discussed the digital economy, a youth guarantee, apprenticeships, and the European Semester. During the Semester, each EU state will have an input to the policies of each of the other states. Hopefully, they will learn from each other.

    But it would be a mistake to think that the main ingredients of a solution to the economic problems of the countries of the eurozone will be found at European level, because the problems did not, in the main, arise at European level. Although they had the same currency, some countries did much better than others did. Between 2008 and 2013, the growth in the euro zone ranged from plus 6% growth in Slovakia, to minus 6% in Greece. Some countries (Bulgaria, Sweden and Germany) grew faster than the United States between 2008 and 2013, while most of the other EU countries saw their economies contract.

    It is good that, at EU level, we will now, through the European Semester, have detailed peer review of one another’s growth policies, including market liberalisation, taxation and public spending. But it would be a great pity if this encouraged national governments to delegate strategic thinking, about how to maximise the growth of their own economies, to the European Union.

    Growth promoting reforms, whether these reforms be

    + of professional restrictions,
    + of slow and costly courts systems
    + of welfare systems that penalise work,
    + of educational systems that leave too many 15 year olds unable to read properly,
    + or of public sector wage and pension policies that are unaffordable,

    will all differ from country to country, and can only be made on a country by country basis. The EU cannot do that job for national governments. They must do it themselves.


    The EU has some things it must do. It must set up a single banking system for the euro zone. Given that most money takes the form of bank credit of some kind, it makes no sense to have a single currency without a single banking system. It makes no sense either that, at the moment, a badly run, and possibly insolvent bank in a well run country can borrow much more cheaply than can a well run and solvent bank in a country whose public finances are in a mess. These things can only be put right by EU action. Nor is it right that European arrangements to deal with banking and currency problems should be held hostage to the decision of the constitutional court of one country (Germany).


    I find the arguments against “austerity”, in countries whose governments are spending more than they are collecting, to be lacking in rigorous thought. If a state is spending more than it is taking in by taxes, to borrow more today is simply to decide to pass the “austerity” on to a later generation, and to do so with interest! As a result of compound interest, a future generation will have to repay a lot MORE that the present generation will have borrowed. But the next generation will be far LESS able than we are to meet our bills that this one is.

    This is because, 35 years from now, there will be two Europeans at work for every European who is retired, whereas today there are four Europeans of working age for every European who is retired. Thus the future burden of debts taken on today will have to borne out of the earnings of a smaller number of working people than are at work today. And those working people will also have to provide for a larger number of retired people than this generation has to cater for.

    I wonder what the anti austerity protesters think of that!

    John Bruton Banking Crisis Economy Sustainability

    John Bruton

    EU can help, but states must take primary responsibility for reforms


    30 Oct 2013

  • Jürgen Matthes, co-author of a new CES study on public finances and growth talks about how to counter the dangers of self-defeating austerity and the four objectives that have to be taken into consideration when implementing smart fiscal consolidation measures.

    Jürgen Matthes Crisis Growth Macroeconomics Social Policy Sustainability

    Jürgen Matthes

    Smart Fiscal Consolidation: Achieving Sustainable Public Finances and Growth


    10 Jul 2013

  • Due to high government debt levels and the dangers of self-defeating austerity, smart fiscal consolidation measures are needed that foster economic growth. A thorough review of the relevant literature provides many useful insights. To regain credibility, a clearly communicated broad reform program (including structural reforms) is required. Targeting mainly public expenditures, rather than revenues, raises the chances of expansionary effects. The timing of consolidation should focus on adjustment in structural terms to leave room for automatic stabilisers. The main part of the study evaluates the impact of individual consolidation and fiscal reform measures on consolidation success, on economic growth (in the long and short term), and on social fairness.

    Economy Growth Macroeconomics Sustainability

    Smart Fiscal Consolidation: A Strategy for Achieving Sustainable Public Finances and Growth

    Research Papers

    09 Jul 2013

  • This publication summarises the proceedings of a conference organised during April 2012 in Lisbon by the think tank Platform for Sustainable Growth (Plataforma para o Crescimento Sustentável) on the topic “How can we foster green growth?” Speakers included António Costa e Silva (CEO of Partex), Joy Kim (Advisor at United Nations Environmental Programme), Peter Vis (Chief of Cabinet of the EU Commissioner on Climate Action) and Carlos Pimenta (Coordinator of Sustainability at PCS). The aim of the event and the follow-up publication was to identify the role green economy can play to achieve sustainable growth in Europe in general and Portugal in particular.

    Economy EU Member States Growth Renewable Energy Sustainability

    How Can We Foster Green Growth?


    05 Nov 2012

  • This publication summarises the proceedings of a conference organised during February 2012 in Lisbon by the think tank Platform for Sustainable Growth (Plataforma para o Crescimento Sustentável) on the topic “How can we simultaneously foster growth and consolidate our public finance?” Speakers included Lucinda Creighton (Minister on European Affairs, Ireland), Andrew Haldenby (Director of the think-tank REFORM, UK), Philippe Aghion (Harvard University, US), Vitor Bento (President of SIBS) and Jorge Vasconcelos (PCS). The aim of the event and the follow-up publication was to identify policies and measures to foster sustainable growth in Portugal going beyond the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Portugal and the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and the European Central Bank. The main conclusion is that in addition to fiscal consolidation, Portugal also needs to focus on structural reforms and selective and reproductive investments on knowledge economy, green economy and industrial policy; this his will foster an innovation-led economy.

    EU Member States Growth Innovation Sustainability

    Growth and Austerity: How to Foster Growth in Times of Austerity?


    01 Nov 2012

  • In addition to the global economic crisis which broke out in 2008 the problems stemming from the ageing of the population in most European countries and the resulting increases in health spending call for reforms of the national health care systems. In addition to these problems a number of European counties are also facing difficulties caused by excessively bureaucratic structures in the health systems, imposing further burdens on the state budgets. This book looks at healthcare reforms, the ownership and operation of healthcare institutes and the structure of healthcare spending and the ageing society in a number of EU countries.

    Social Policy Society Sustainability

    Sustainability of Health Care in European Democracies


    18 Dec 2011

  • The Centre for European Studies with the cooperation of the CDA Research Institute published this study on health care in an aging Europe. The accessibility and affordability of care is a major issue in ageing societies. All EU countries have to handle this issue, although the increase in costs is uneven and financing and organization varies widely. It is to be welcomed that the Dutch experience with reforms in health care is shared in this study. It shows that great reforms are possible and what the necessary conditions are. On the other hand it also demonstrates the serious risks that countries face when they don’t succeed to reform. The role of the Centre for European Studies is to exchange views and ideas as well as to disseminate the results of research to the public and the decision-makers in health care and participants in health care discussions. This study by Evert Jan van Asselt, Lans Bovenberg, Raymond Gradus and Ab Klink contributes to this mission. All four are involved in the work of the Research Institute for the CDA, the think tank of the Christian Democratic Party in the Netherlands. Evert Jan van Asselt as deputy director and Raymond Gradus as director, Ab Klink as former Director and until recently Minister of Health Care and Sport. Hans Bovenberg was involved in many political studies of the Dutch institute as adviser and is an expert on ageing issues. The combined knowledge and experience has led to a forward looking study with a challenging policy agenda.

    Social Policy Society Sustainability

    Health Care Reforms in an Ageing European Society, with a Focus on the Netherlands


    01 Sep 2010