The proposed opinion will look at new approaches to more fairly distributing the burden of transformation towards a sustainable Europe.
Conference on Energy poverty at the crossroads of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Green Deal - Related Opinions
Just a few days ahead of last December's climate summit COP24 in Poland, the European Commission published its long-term strategy "A clean planet for all" presenting its vision for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a socially-fair transition in a cost-efficient manner. While the document does not contain any new policy proposals, it provides the direction of travel of EU climate and energy policy and frames what the EU considers as its long-term contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement temperature objectives in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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 EESC adopted this opinion after in-depth work carried out during the four meetings of the study group. The opinion also reflects the national debates with civil society organisations carried out in all Member States between 2 September and 2 November 2016. These discussions were coordinated by three members of the EESC ('trios') from the country concerned, often in cooperation with the European Commission (15 debates) or the national economic and social council (7 debates). Participants came from a wide range of employers' and trade union organisations and other civil society organisations, as well as, to a lesser extent, from the academic world. A total of 116 EESC members and nearly 1,800 representatives of civil society organisations participated in the 28 debates. The conclusions/recommendations of the national debates have been grouped in the opinion, while the reports on the national debates will be published separately.
The EESC supports the intention of the Dutch Presidency of the Council to address poverty through integrated approaches and through cooperation between public and private stakeholders. However, to do so, Member States must be supported by a common European framework and best-practice actors by national anti-poverty strategies. The EU Council should reiterate the commitment made to meet Europe's poverty target by 2020.
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.
The opinion of the EESC should consider different options and scenarios for post-2015 and develop proposals on how to involve civil society more extensively in the process.
Homelessness is the fourth most common reason given for poverty in the EU. It causes major personal tragedies, and also has significant social implications. If the number of homeless people was reduced, social costs would also decrease, and with better social inclusion Europe would progress. The right to housing is enshrined in many countries' constitutions. Still, there is no single and consistent method of collecting data on homelessness and the social integration of homeless people remains a very complex and difficult process. This EESC opinion, which focuses on both the effects and the causes of this problem, proposes measures to address it.