Europe is going through a green and digital transformation and the European institutions are committed to ensuring that people remain centre-stage and that the economy works for them.
Mediul - Related Opinions
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.
The revamped Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) is a tool through which the EU supports, coordinates and supplements actions of EU Member States in the field of civil protection in order to prevent, prepare and respond to natural and man-made disasters within and outside the EU. The new proposal aims to strengthen the UCPM to ensure that the EU and its Member States are better prepared to respond to large-scale emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
The European Union and its Member States must stand united to protect their sovereignty. The EESC firmly believes that if Europe is to maintain its leading role in the world, it needs a strong, competitive industrial base. The EESC recognises the crucial importance of shifting to a carbon-neutral economy and of reversing the current curve of biodiversity collapse. Without a green industrial strategy as a cornerstone of the Green Deal, the EU will never succeed in reaching a carbon-neutral economy within one generation. The new industrial strategy must ensure the right balance between supporting European businesses, respecting our 2050 climate neutrality objective and providing consumers with incentives to shift consumption to sustainable goods and services .
The EESC strongly supports the Commission's proposal – Next Generation EU – as a specific tool for a quick and effective recovery.
The EESC takes a very positive view of the Commission's two main decisions:
- to introduce an extraordinary financial recovery instrument as part of the multiannual financial framework
- to raise common debt, which will be repaid over a long period of time, and prevent the extraordinary financial burden from falling directly on the Member States in the short run.
The EESC strongly welcomes the fact that the newly proposed instrument should be closely coordinated with the European Semester process, and furthermore welcomes the Commission's proposal to introduce additional genuine own resources based on different taxes (revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System, digital taxation, large companies' revenues).
The EESC believes that there are well-founded reasons to establish uniform rules within the EU to combat global warming and based on these to embark on international discussions with other trading blocs. Furthermore, the Committee deems that, in the future, it could be useful and necessary to also devise new taxation measures that can supplement the current emissions trading system and national carbon taxes in order to achieve an effective and symmetrical policy framework to tackle the increasing amount of CO2 emissions.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to how environmental laws could be better supported at EU and national level and suggest ways to enhance the role of civil society in the framework of the EIR process.