A Renovation Wave for Europe - Related Opinions
The health, economic and social crisis of COVID-19 has intensified the severity of the affordable housing crisis that Member States have been facing for years, particularly for homeless people, overcrowded households, residents of working class neighbourhoods and seasonal workers and immigrants – victims of housing conditions that have directly affected the infection rate in society. Although housing policy remains the competence of the Member States, the shortage of decent and affordable housing in the European Union requires a European action plan on housing that includes a comprehensive set of measures, which are easy for people to understand, to help Member States, regions and cities in Europe to sustainably boost the supply of social and affordable housing and effectively combat homelessness.
The EESC welcomes the fact that principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights reaffirms the right to access essential services/SGEIs. These are a vital component of social justice and are underpinned by the principle of equal treatment of users, prohibiting any kind of discrimination or exclusion whatsoever, and by the principle of universal access to services of a high level of affordability and quality.
The revision of the energy performance in buildings directive will have a significant impact on economic activities in the construction sector by increasing the average rate of annual renovation and through the implementation of long term renovation strategies in Members States. This will have a positive impact on employment and open the opportunity to acquire new and additional skills and qualifications in order to ensure sustainable quality employment and competitiveness of the construction sector.
The EESC welcomes the "clean energy" package, which aims to accelerate, transform and consolidate the EU economy's clean energy transition, while pursuing the important goals of economic growth and job creation. The proposed package includes important proposals in the areas of renewable energies and electricity market design and regulation, energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings, energy innovations, transport, and governance – and the Committee views many of the initiatives favourably. However, the opinion – drawing on nine other opinions concerned with the individual proposals of the clean energy package – also identifies a number of challenges that civil society and co-legislators need to be aware of.
To address the issue of energy poverty, the EESC calls for a European energy security and solidarity commitment within the framework of a European energy community which would drive forward a truly European policy and aim to: protect individuals and prevent their social exclusion; take action to reduce the factors of structural vulnerability; and encourage everyone to assume responsibility for using sustainable and renewable energy resources.