The consequences of COVID-19 will shape European policies and politics for years to come. Already before the pandemic, the European Union (EU) was facing difficulties in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and making progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Europe is lagging behind particularly on the SDGs related to agriculture, climate change and biodiversity and in strengthening convergence of living standards across EU member states. The pandemic has made these SDGs even more difficult to achieve by 2030, and could derail progress on other SDGs as well. Moreover, recovery measures to address the pandemic’s short- and medium-term socio-economic consequences will determine whether the EU moves towards a sustainable development model by 2030 or locks in unsustainable pathways instead.