The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of public services for the functioning of our societies. They are powerful levers for action on which to build in preparation for the post-crisis period at the European level. Faced with the important social, ecological and economic transitions expected, public service companies have an important role to play.
The discussion first focused on the essential role of public utilities. They continued to keep the territory functioning even in times of crisis, and without them economic recovery would be impossible. In addition to serving the population, the involvement of these companies is central to the realisation of the European Green Pact, which aims to make the economy more sustainable in Europe. Through active research in their areas of expertise (such as water treatment in Milan, for example), public service companies are implementing innovations that are part of a sustainable development approach.
The speakers then presented concrete examples of public services responding to the challenges of the ecological transition, such as the all-electric Nantes busway, or the Swedish public transport system, 80% of which is powered by renewable energies.
These two projects are part of a long list of innovative initiatives by European cities to become greener. This requires financial investment, often beyond the scope of the municipality. The ecological transition is part of the European Union’s programme, which represents an important source of funding. Beyond being considered only as a major financial support, Europe is today considered above all as an important and ambitious partner, which pushes and encourages companies in their work.