Civil society representatives call for the extension of the Green Deal to the entire EEA

The European Economic Area Consultative Committee (EEA CC) held on 18 September 2020 its 28th annual meeting to discuss two resolutions linked to the implementation of the Green Deal initiative and the EU’s New Industrial Strategy. The members of the EEA CC, which represents employers, workers, and other civil society players of EEA member states, agreed on the need to extend the Green Deal to the entire EEA to achieve a more sustainable single market.

In December 2019, the European Commission presented its Green Deal initiative aimed to reach a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050. This initiative will include the first European Climate Law and a Circular Economy Action Plan which will help to transform our production and consumption system with a view to reducing its environmental and carbon footprint.

This initiative was warmly welcomed by the EEA CC in a resolution adopted by the members which called on the EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) to “commit themselves to the ambitious agenda of the European Green Deal”. The EEA CC emphasised that the EEA EFTA States are fully integrated in the EU’s single market and have “a strong common interest in promoting European competitiveness and a level playing field with high standards for the protection of workers, consumers and the environment”.

The resolution is based in a report presented by Kinga Joó, member of the European Economic and Social Committee and co-chair of the EEA CC, and Jarle Hammerstad, member of the EFTA Consultative Committee. Kinga Joó underlined that structural change, such as the green transition, has to be accompanied by social measures to be successful. For low-income households it is important to consider how to alleviate and compensate for the disproportionate impacts. Supporting social investment can enable efforts towards climate neutrality, generate green jobs and narrow socio-economic disparities.

Maria Nikolopoulou, also member of the EESC, was invited as a speaker to present the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. The objective of the platform is to bring people together and to share the huge amount of information, good practices and expertise in the circular economy, said Ms Nikolopoulou.

In its resolution, the EEA CC insists on the need to complement the Green Deal initiative with other measures to avoid inequalities between regions, sectors and people and the loss of jobs. To this aim, it is of outmost importance that the strategy includes a prominent social dimension and additional funding must be made available in all countries across the EEA.

Industry and sustainable growth

The EEA CC also adopted a resolution on the EU’s New Industrial Strategy (NIS). The document stresses that in order to reach the goals of the Green Deal, industry has a leading role and that “a cornerstone of sustainable economic growth in the EU could be the creation and development of circular economy business models”. It also calls on the EEA EFTA States to “contribute to the development of upcoming EEA relevant legislative proposals of policies that will have an impact on the Single Market and a swift incorporation into the EEA Agreement”.

Petr Zahradník, member of the EESC and rapporteur of the resolution, pointed out that the basic issue for the New Industrial Strategy is to find a good balance between the need to support and protect the EU industry on the one side and the implementation of the main principles of the Green Deal on the other. Zahradník also insisted on the need to mobilise financial resources, including with the creation of incentives to motivate private capital to participate.  

The EEA CC also received briefings on the latest developments of the EEA Agreement and current EU/EEA EFTA issues by Sabine Monauni, President and EFTA Chair of the EEA Joint Committee (Ambassador of Liechtenstein to the EU) and Clara Ganslandt, EU Chair of the EEA Joint Committee (EEAS). Andri Lúthersson, EFTA Deputy Secretary-General, also briefed the Committee on relations with the UK.