This opinion is being prepared at a time where the shift to a low-carbon economy is more urgent than ever and where new "green" occupations emerge and existing jobs need to be "greened". This implies needs for new skill sets, which necessitate updated curricula or even new qualifications across education and training levels. These new "green skills" can range from very technical and job-specific skills to "softer" skills such as responsible use of resources, which can be relevant across occupations, levels of hierarchy and sectors. While the "greening" of the economy creates skill needs, particularly in specific sectors such as energy and resource efficiency, construction and manufacturing, moving towards a circular economy creates "green" skill needs across the board.
European Green Deal
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On 11 December 2019, the European Commission launched the European Green Deal reinforcing the EU’s commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges that is this generation’s defining task. The objective of the European Green Deal is to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy, ensuring:
- no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050;
- economic growth decoupled from resource use;
- no person and no place left behind.
To deliver the European Green Deal, the EU is carrying out a comprehensive package of initiatives, including policy and legislative proposals and the development and modernisation of financing instruments.
The EESC has been calling for a "Green and Social Deal", stressing the close link between the Green Deal and social justice. It is essential to hear the voice of all stakeholders in order to foster the sustainable and competitive companies of tomorrow in a healthy environment.
The European Green Deal placed a strong emphasis on investment and the financing of the green and sustainable transition. The Green Deal is Europe’s lifeline out of the COVID-19 pandemic. One third of the 1.8 trillion euro investments from the NextGenerationEU Recovery Plan, and the EU’s seven-year budget finances the European Green Deal. This boost in funding opportunities aims to turn the crisis into a transformational opportunity for the future of Europe.
The EESC plays a crucial role in monitoring the implementation of the European Green Deal initiatives and actions. The EESC prepares opinions and organises activities (see side menu on the left of this page) to ensure the EU institutions take into account the views of organised civil society and the Green Deal initiatives are coherent with the economic, social and civic circumstances on the ground.
Due to the transversal and all-encompassing nature, the European Green Deal is covered by all EESC Sections and CCMI.
This additional opinion updates and complements the proposals made in the original ASGS opinion, adopted in February this year. The EESC welcomes the step forward towards embracing a more social, inclusive and sustainable economic model, particularly given the economic and social effects of COVID-19. To support the economic recovery and public investment, and in support of a digital and green transformation, the EESC believes that a revision of the Stability and Growth Pact, flexibility in state aid rules and a rethink of tax policy is necessary. Well-resourced public health measures and social security systems are likewise of vital importance. The EESC also welcomes the Commission's proposals for Next Generation EU and sees the ASGS as an opportunity for the EU to shift towards an economic model that gives equal weighing to both economic and social objectives.
Global supply chains (GSC) are key and complex in economic activities across the world and in global trade. Economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship are also contested by evidence of negative implications for working conditions as well as for sustainability in some supply chains.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the serious downfalls related to highly fragmented and undiversified supply chains. It exposed the vulnerability of workers' health and safety, and it highlighted violations of human rights. Trade will have to play a key role in promoting a sustainable economic recovery. However, stronger instruments need to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda.
GSC need to become more resilient, diversified and responsible, and ambitious actions need to ensure they contribute to a fairer economic and social model, based on sustainability and decent work.
Securing sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals and construction raw materials, and particularly Critical Raw Materials (CRM), is of high importance for the EU economy. However, the EU is confronted with a number of technological and environmental challenges along the entire production value chain of primary and secondary raw materials.
This opinion deals with three of four megatrends at the heart of the new Commission priorities: climate change, biodiversity loss and globalisation. While the European Green Deal will result in higher environmental standards with, for instance, stricter climate change targets, it is important that all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are not undermining these improvements by contributing to deforestation or biodiversity loss in other countries. As one of the world's largest importer of energy, agricultural goods and raw materials, the EU has contributed to deforestation and biodiversity loss in other countries.
This opinion will look into the possibilities to engage with young people in a formal way at institutional level and provide the building blocks for a new structured approach to youth engagement at EU level.