Dimensions of environmental, social and economic sustainability

VS – 08/2023

In its Communication of 13 July, the European Commission presented 2023 strategic foresight report. It provides an overview of the key challenges facing Europe. With regard to successfully shaping change, there is a need for action in ten areas. The need for a new European social contract is mentioned first.

Making Europe fit for the future

The annual strategic foresight report supports the European Commission in implementing the objectives of the European Green Deal. It discusses various future scenarios that form the basis for the European Commission's work programmes and multi-annual programme planning. The topic on focus this year is sustainability and people's well-being at the heart of Europe's open strategic autonomy.

Growing need for skills for a sustainable future.

Education and training are the prerequisites for a sustainable future and an adaptable society. The green transformation goes hand in hand with new fields of work. This requires qualified employees. At the same time, labour demand in traditional industrial sectors will decrease. Therefore, the foresight report calls for a strategy of continuous training of employees. It is emphasised here that the constant teaching of sufficient skills goes beyond purely economic considerations. They are also crucial for active participation in social life or for distinguishing facts from misinformation and disinformation.

New economic model for the well-being of people and nature

The foresight report emphasises the increasing pressure on the social and economic aspects of sustainability. According to the report, the predominant focus on economic factors without adequate consideration of the quality of growth and jobs has led to unsustainable production and consumption practices. It is therefore proposed to adjust the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to take into account various factors such as health and the environment. The aim is to provide policy-makers with meaningful economic indicators that take into account the well-being of people and the conservation of nature.

New European social contract

The foresight report emphasises that the existing social contract no longer does justice to the new social and economic reality. For example, 40 per cent of the workforce is currently in atypical employment, while social protection systems are mainly geared towards traditional forms of employment (e.g. full-time employment, permanent dependent employment). While young people, those born outside the European Union (EU) and women in particular are often not sufficiently covered.

The foresight report therefore calls for the development of inclusive, high-quality social services that cover all workers and better enable people to participate in the economy. Due to the accompanying strengthening of the labour force potential, this new social contract would also contribute significantly to the long-term global competitiveness of the EU economy.

The 2023 strategic foresight report is due to be discussed by the Heads of State and Government at the informal European Council in Granada in October.