By Peter McGoldrick
The European Union hopes to use the hundreds of billions of euros it is mobilising for the COVID-19 recovery to reshape the European economy, making it more green and digital. Public investment – municipal investment, in particular – will play an important part.
Local authorities like municipalities account for 45% of all government investment. Their investment includes basic infrastructure, such as public transport or water utilities. They also modernise public buildings, such as schools, hospitals or social housing. Prioritising energy efficiency in these projects will help Europe meet its ambitious climate goals. Municipalities are also responsible for about 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Their role in implementing local development strategies and enforcing regulation will be key for climate change and for protecting biodiversity.
Municipalities, however, have suffered from a decade of low investment, a legacy of the financial crisis and resulting austerity measures. That low investment resulted in persistent infrastructure gaps. Municipalities had just begun to address those gaps and newly urgent digital and climate needs when the pandemic hit.