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Against a background of rising poverty levels during the crisis, levels that remain high in many Member States, in particular among the unemployed, this own-initiative opinion would address the huge differences in levels of protection under national unemployment insurance systems within the EU.
Possible standards in this respect could be:
- a minimum standard for the net replacement rate of unemployment benefits;
- a minimum standard of coverage ratio of unemployed people receiving unemployment payments;
- a minimum standard for the duration of unemployment benefit entitlement;
- a right to (re)qualification and training
With the objective of promoting upward social convergence within the EU, the proposal for such standards is a concrete step towards effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights recently announced by the EU institutions in Gothenburg.
The European Commission’s first progress report on the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries shows that a variety of actions have been launched to develop a significant battery industry in the EU. Although it is far too early to draw definitive conclusions, the EESC supports the initiatives that the Commission has taken and has announced it will take to work with Member States and European industry to break Europe's dependence on non-EU – particularly Asian – countries. There is much to be done in the coming years to achieve the necessary level of technological expertise in the EU, to secure the supply of raw materials from third countries and EU sources and to ensure that batteries can be recycled safely and cleanly. Investing in staff is the joint responsibility for the government and the business community.
The EESC takes note of the Fourth Report on the State of the Energy Union (SEU), supports the objectives of the Energy Union and welcomes the emphasis on the engagement and mobilisation of EU society to take full ownership of the Energy Union.
The EESC is surprised by the European Commission's statement that "the Energy Union is a reality". The Energy Union may be a reality in terms of EU policy decisions, but it is not yet a reality in European citizens' daily life. The EESC calls on the European Commission to make further use of its powers, including legal powers, to ensure that EU energy law, including the 2020 energy-climate targets, are respected by Member States.
The EESC calls for a strategic shift at all levels to unequivocally promote new models of circularity, not only by stepping up the alignment of all actors, but also by placing consumers at the centre of public policy.