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Four Motors for Europe: How to strengthen its role in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the European Green Deal

Bernat Solé i Barril, Catalan Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, on behalf of the Four Motors for Europe

In 1988, with the European integration as a backdrop, Baden-Württemberg, Lombardy, Rhône-Alpes (now Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) and Catalonia decided to join forces and to take an active part in the European construction and, at the same time, to promote the internationalization of the four territories with joint actions. It was the birth of the Four Motors for Europe, a network of cooperation with a desire to influence in areas such as the economy, innovation and culture and which, more than thirty years later, has established itself as a point of reference and a model to follow.

We now face a special and complex context, within the framework of COVID-19, which requires collaboration and cooperation between territories more than ever. The pandemic has fully affected our daily lives and impacted our social and economic sectors. Lately, we have experienced a second wave that has hit the vast majority of European countries. A highly complex situation that undoubtedly forces us to respond together. In fact, the Catalan presidency of the Four Motors for Europe that Catalonia took over last September in Milan has the social and economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic as its main objective.

Precisely in this line, from the Four Motors for Europe, central importance was given to the specific work of dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19. This is essentially the founding spirit of the network and the way forward, through cooperation and the exchange of experiences and best practices.

The 2030 Agenda, through its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is and will be the guide through which we can face all the challenges that the present and the future hold for us. The reconstruction of our societies subsequent to COVID-19 must allow us to overcome this crisis from such fundamental values such as equal opportunities and sustainability. 

From the Four Motors for Europe, we have come together to move decisively towards achieving the SDGs marked on a global scale, and to stimulate the five major areas defined in the 2030 Agenda: the planet, people, prosperity, peace and alliances. In fact, we are already doing so as an alliance of territories making one of these five major areas that included in the United Nations’ agenda our own. And we do so because we are convinced that we will only get through it if we are able to get through it together.

The 2030 Agenda is intrinsically linked to the European Green Deal, which aims to improve the well-being of people through a roadmap that will make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. The Four Motors for Europe have given their firm support for its objectives and initiatives in a recent declaration of the ministers of Environment of the four regions. The COVID-19 forces us to rethink dynamics and lines of action especially in everything that refers to the circular economy and sustainability. And it is precisely for this reason that we must consider it an indispensable framework not only for a green recovery of the devastating effects of the pandemic but for this change of model that goes through, among others, an energy transition.

Baden-Württemberg, Lombardy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Catalonia know that the recipe for the future of our societies is tied to people and the planet. It is what we have imposed on ourselves as Four Motors for Europe and it is this, and only this, the path that will respond to the global challenge we have as a society.

*This article was published and is also available in Catalan, French, German and Italian.