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The European Environment Agency's first European climate risk assessment shows that floods, heat and drought fundamentally jeopardise the supply of food and the health of people in Europe, not least workers. Adaptation to man-made climate change must begin now in order to promote climate resilience and enable social and ecological transformation.

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Given the political significance of this European election year, the Benchmarking Working Europe Report 2024 provides a retrospective assessment of the state of Social Europe. Important achievements of the past EU legislative period are recognised, but shortcomings are also identified. The report also points out the necessary political steps in the coming EU legislative period to ensure the continuation of the social paradigm shift.

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21 member organisations of the European Alliance for a Just Transition have signed a joint letter on an EU policy framework for just transition, with the aim of putting the issue more centre stage in the next EU policy cycle. The letter was sent on 11 March to the relevant ministers and to the Permanent Representatives of the Member States to the EU. They are called on to raise the ambition of the forthcoming Environment Council Conclusions and other relevant decisions in the coming months.

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Florian Wukovitsch (Brussels office)

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Judith Vorbach (Brussels office)

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On 13 March 2024, the European Parliament adopted its position on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive with a resounding majority. MEPs retained many key provisions originally adopted by the ENVI Committee, which will enable social enterprises to foster circularity and inclusion in Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes for textiles. 

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Florian Wukovitsch (Brussels office)

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Judith Fitz

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In order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU are to be reduced by 90 percent by 2040 compared to 1990 levels: With this new recommendation, the EU Commission is setting the direction for the next legislative period. Parallel to the communication on the 2040 climate target, a communication on industrial carbon management was presented, which is intended to make a significant contribution to reducing emissions.

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The end of the legislative period was characterised by the European Green Deal. One of the numerous proposals to promote the circular economy, which is still being discussed, is a regulation on requirements for the circular design of vehicles and the disposal of end-of-life vehicles. The aim of this regulation is to reduce the environmental impact of the automotive sector and thus contribute to environmental and climate targets. Among other, this is to be achieved through regulations on reuse, recycling and design.

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The EU's trade and investment agreement with Chile will be put to the vote in the European Parliament on 29 February. From AK's point of view, the agreement is highly problematic, as it has a negative impact on environmental and social standards, among other. The EU is thus moving a step further away from its goal of using trade policy to contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal.

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The EU-Commission has proposed measures to improve the circularity of the automotive sector, covering the design, production and end-of-life management of vehicles. The aim is not only to improve access to resources and support environmental and climate goals, but also to promote value creation and employment. AK welcomes the basic objective of the proposal. The provisions on the reusability, recyclability and recoverability of vehicles and the associated obligation to collect data are very positive.

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Judith Fitz

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Franz Greil

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Florian Wukovitsch (Brussels office)

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On 24 January, the EU's trade and investment agreement with Chile is on the agenda of the Committee on International Trade (INTA) and on 29 February the vote will be held in the European Parliament’s plenary session.

The Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK) and the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) resolutely oppose the agreement with Chile.

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Elena Ellmeier

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Angela Pfister

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Judith Vorbach (Brussels office)

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The EU Commission is proposing an amendment to the Directive to make combined freight transport more attractive. In future, Combined Transport will be subsidised on the basis of external costs and organised digitally. The proposed measures should make it 10 per cent cheaper. AK is fundamentally in favour of more environmentally friendly freight transport. However, it is doubtful whether the proposed measures will actually lead to success.