During the energy transition towards the low-emission economy, the EU energy system faces a period of profound technological, economic and social change that will affect many of the energy sectors, including the coal industry and hence the coal-mining regions of the EU.
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The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.
In the framework of this opinion a hearing (The processing and exploitation, for economic and environmental purposes, of the industrial and mining waste deposits from European Union) was organized in Cluj Napoca / Kolozsvár, in Romania, on 19 May 2011.
The EESC welcomes the Commission document COM(2011) 25 final Tackling the Challenges in Commodity Markets and on Raw Materials and The European raw materials' initiative (RMI) as an important step to tackle this vital issue.
EESC thus urges the EC to monitor the situation in international trade of critical raw materials (as listed in COM(2011) 25 final and with regular updating of this list). In addition, we endorse the need to continue in negotiation at the international level (WTO) to promote free trade also in commodity markets.
The EESC urges a more active foreign policy regarding security of raw materials for EU industry.
The raw material policy must form an integral component of the EU industrial policy.
The EESC thinks that the creation of a strategic stockpile of critical raw materials is among the potential solutions.
The phasing-out of coal in Europe needs smart long-term strategies. It is important to focus on the balance between the economic, environmental and social impacts. A change to renewables can be part of the solution. Regional investment schemes and the involvement of the local population concerned in order to build public support are key to a successful transition. On 7 April, the CCMI of the EESC held a high-level debate on "Industrial and energy transition – the industrial, economic and social consequences", bringing together...
Transition to a circular economy is a must if we are to protect our planet, but also if we are to increase the competitiveness of European industry. This is a long-term process that will require numerous initiatives at European, national and regional level. Companies see the circular economy as an opportunity. "Going green" is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for businesses, providing real savings in terms of raw materials, water and energy. Apart from its environmental and economic benefits, the circular economy also has social advantages, providing new jobs and new business models.