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The planet's resources will soon not be enough to support the growing world population, nor will it be possible to maintain a linear economic growth model which assumes that resources are abundant, available, easy to source and cheap to dispose of — hence the expression "take-make-consume and dispose". European Union flagship initiatives aim to shape the transition to a more circular economy. In addition to bringing economic benefits, this should prioritise efficient use of resources (metals, minerals, fuels, water, land, timber, fertile soil, clean air and biodiversity), allowing products to retain their added value for as long as possible and as little waste as possible to be generated and taken to landfills.


Not since the late 1970s, when Europe adopted the so-called “Davignon rescue plan” for its steel, have we witnessed a more serious crisis in the European steel sector. This time it is caused by illegal foreign trade practices. Today, once again, European mills are idled. Plant continue to be shut down, the most recent case being in the UK. European workers are laid off. The EU has seen a 120% surge in Chinese imports since 2013, with 7 000 steelworkers having lost their jobs across Europe since autumn 2015.


TTIP, labour, migration and energy were the main topics discussed during the Extraordinary Bureau Meeting of the Employers' Group which took place on 6 and 7 June in The Hague. The Members of the Bureau had the opportunity to exchange views with representatives of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), VNO-NCW, The Hague Security Delta, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Deltares, Airborne and CEEMET.


"The European Economic and Social Committee considers that the participation of Roma at all stages of decision-making is essential for achieving effective policies that can make a real difference to their situation within the EU. However, the tools available today are not sufficient in this regard"


The functional economy and how it works in practice was discussed at a public hearing, organised on the 8th June by the European Economic and Social Committee. The focus is on the function of the product rather than on the product itself - the functional economy considers how the product can be used most efficiently. "The concept of the functional economy has to be well-defined. We also have to explore the effect it will have on the creation of jobs and the advantages of a long lasting product which can be used by more than one consumer", said the EESC Rapporteur Thierry Libaert in his opening speech.


"Many examples have shown that pressure on suppliers or intense competition between them can lead to situations where workers work in dangerous conditions without decent employment contracts or social security or for very low wages and without real opportunities to join or form unions to defend their rights,"