Since its adoption in May 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been ratified by 195 countries. These states meet once a year at the Conference of Parties (COP), also known as the UN climate summits. After over two decades of negotiations however – during which global emissions have increased by almost 50% – there is growing consensus that tougher action is needed to cut emissions and cap global temperature increases accordingly.
The EESC and the European Commission agree that successful implementation of the EU Energy Union – together with achieving concrete results at the crucial Climate Agreement talks in Paris at the end of 2015 – will depend very much on putting in place a reliable and transparent governance system.
This will help to ensure that the EU meets its targets.
Civil society plays a key role not only in fund raising and implementing development activities, but also in political processes.
Effective action can be accomplished through collaboration with social partners and interested NGOs, says the EESC. The end result will be sustainable economic, social and environmental growth in developing countries, which will help to eradicate poverty and facilitate inclusive growth.
European industry is a crucial part of the EU economy. Manufacturing still accounts for 80% of EU exports and ¼ of its employment. The goal of increasing manufacturing industry's share of EU GDP to 20% is still some way off. It currently sits at 15.1%. In order to increase this share, European industrial policy must be the focus of EU policy makers. The publication summarises a discussion entitled "Reinforcing European industrial competitiveness" organised by the EESC Employers' Group in November 2014 in Rome, Italy.
The EU is highly dependent on energy resources. More than a half of EU energy consumption is linked to imports. Increasing instability in the Middle East together with the deterioration of EU-Russia relations mean that energy security will remain at the top of the EU's agenda in the coming years. How can we achieve a true energy union? How can interconnectivity be increased between Member States? What should the ideal energy mix look like and how can energy efficiency be increased within the EU? The publication summarises the debate that seeks answers to these questions.
Nearly half of all food gets wasted in the EU each year. This statistic is even more shocking when one considers that 79 million EU citizens live beneath the poverty line and some 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions. In 2011, in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, 24.2% of Europeans – 119.6 million people – were on the brink of social exclusion.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!“ was the first successful ECI, achieving over 1.6 million validated signatures from across 13 Member States. The Initiative called upon the Commission to “implement the human right to water and sanitation in European law“.
As the current economic and financial crisis drags on, many Europeans are being forced to get by on less. This loss of purchasing power puts consumers at risk of social exclusion. The EU estimates1 that more than 120 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2013.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the biggest and most ambitious free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the European Union. Economists believe that an agreement with the USA will be advantageous for both the European Union and the USA, and the negative effects of trade liberalisation will be insignificant. This publication is a summary of the debate on "What development opportunities does the TTIP bring to Europe?" that was held in Sopot on 2 October 2014 as part of the European Forum for New Ideas.
Energy is crucial for modern societies; the development of the economy is directly linked to its price and availability.
Today, Europe is highly dependent on external energy resources; in 2012 90% of its energy was imported. Yet the various political crises throughout the world (Ukraine, Iraq) remind us that this dependence makes Europe very vulnerable.
In order to minimise the effects of this, Europe must rely on a true energy mix. Diversification, both in terms of geography and energy sources, is crucial.