Without a change of production methods and consumer behaviour, the annual waste produced within the EU is expected to increase by 70% until 2050. To counteract such developments, the Commission published a Circular Economy Action Plan. The AK has subjected the Action Plan to a detailed analysis.
With the Green Deal, the Commission has set one of its key priorities for Europe’s sustainable development. On 22 June 2020, the Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, presented an Eurostat Report, which gives an overview on the progress of the European Union concerning the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The EU Commission presented its proposal for a European Climate Law in early March 2020. The Chamber of Labour supports an ambitious law, which enables the effective fight against the climate crisis and a socially just transition towards a climate neutral Europe.
The AK supports the EU’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. It will require all instruments to achieve this: investments, enforcement orders and prohibitions, ecotaxes and other fiscal instruments, as well as soft measures such as awareness campaigns. The process of decarbonisation must focus on fairness and the interests of workers. Strategies for this so-called “Just Transition” must take the climate policy requirements seriously and at the same time place workers – not least in negatively affected sectors – at their centre.
On 20 May 2020, the European Commission set another important step to implement the Green Deal: with the now presented Farm to Fork Strategy, food production in Europe is to become more sustainable and ensure more transparency for consumers.
The calls for reopening Europe’s internal borders and for a revival of the tourism sector are getting increasingly louder. On 13 May 2020, the Commission presented a package comprising five recommendations, which contain provisions for free movement and tourism – including the protection of consumers – during the COVID-19 crisis.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission proposed specific and temporary measures applicable to the renewal and extension of the period of validity of certain certificates, licences and authorisations and the postponement of certain periodic checks and training in response to the extraordinary circumstances in the transport industry.
Many EU Member States responded to the COVID-19 crisis and the queues at internal EU borders by relaxing their domestic driving times and rest periods. On 29 April 2020, the Commission has approved these exemptions for eleven Member States - including Austria. As a result, drivers in many States are permitted to drive longer hours and/or may have shorter breaks.
Will the Green Deal fall victim to the collateral damage of the coronavirus crisis, or will it help us to emerge from the crisis? Whilst business lobby groups push for a delay with regard to action aimed at the Green Deal, other actors are campaigning for the Green Deal to be maintained.