Union leader: ‘With more social ambition, climate ambitions will also become higher’

European trade unions welcome ambitious EU climate policies, but warn that they need to be implemented alongside an equally ambitious social transition plan or risk sowing the seeds of a backlash, says Judith Kirton-Darling.

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Briefing – EU rural development policy: Impact, challenges and outlook – 08-07-2021

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on its long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. The communication identifies areas of action with a view to creating new momentum for the EU’s rural areas, while recognising their diversity. In recent decades, in many Member States rural areas have experienced depopulation. Such regions face a range of environmental and socio-economic challenges. These include, for example, lower income per capita, a higher percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, a lack of access to basic infrastructure and services, and lower levels of access to fast broadband internet. The EU’s rural development policy has sought to help address these challenges. Evaluation evidence is emerging on the impact of the common agricultural policy (CAP) on the territorial development of the EU’s rural areas. Measures relating to village renewal and LEADER (Liaison entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie rurale) measures are considered to be well-targeted and relevant to local needs, although they represent a small proportion of CAP financing. Administrative burdens have been raised as an issue that can impact on the developmental process. Recommendations from this evaluation evidence point to the need for better integration of funding streams, the need to maintain a dialogue across the European structural funds, and all the implications this may have for the new CAP strategic plans. The Commission’s recommendations to Member States on their CAP strategic plans highlight a number of recurring themes relating to the employment, education and training needs of rural areas, including the need to address rural depopulation, promote generational renewal, improve connectivity, and address the role played by action taken at local level. The Commission’s communication on a long-term vision for rural areas includes provision for a ‘rural pact’ to engage actors at EU, national, rural and local levels and an EU rural action plan, setting out a range of initiatives and actionable projects. The vision and its supporting analyses will provide a framework for addressing the future of the EU’s rural areas.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Highlights – WTO negotiations, Trade and Sustainable Development: committee debates – Committee on International Trade

Abbreviation WTO
The Committee on International Trade will discuss the preparations for the upcoming WTO negotiations, including with respect to the proposed waiver for COVID-19 vaccines intellectual property rights under the TRIPS agreement and the fisheries subsidies negotiations. The Committee will also discuss the review of the 15-point action plan on the effective implementation and enforcement of the Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters (TSD) in trade agreements. The meeting will be held on 13 July.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

At a Glance – Resilient supply chains in the green transition: EU-US Explainer – 28-07-2021

The green transition will increase demand for critical minerals, high capacity batteries, and semiconductors. An electric vehicle requires six times more critical minerals than a conventional car, while an onshore wind power plant requires nine times more critical minerals than a comparable gas-fired plant. Likewise, the lithium-ion battery market is expected to become five to ten times larger by 2030 on account of demand for electric vehicles and stationary storage. Meanwhile, semiconductors underpin virtually every technology, giving them industrial and national security significance. Dependence on a few countries (e.g. China) for these critical inputs and technologies has sparked interest in policies to increase supply chain resilience, for instance through greater domestic production. As the EU and US face similar challenges, in June 2021 they agreed to establish the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, which will also address cooperation on supply chains.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – The financial management of visitor groups to the national parliaments – 08-07-2021

In most Member States, visitor’ groups are not sponsored to visit the national parliament. A visit to the national parliament is free of charge, and all the costs related to the visit, for example travel costs, accommodation and local minor expenses, need to be paid by the visitors themselves.
Germany is the only country which has various kinds of programmes where visitors can be reimbursed. Members of Parliament can invite up to 200 people a year of which the travel costs are partially covered by the German Bundestag. There is also a programme which consists of more days for which all the costs related to travel and accommodation are covered by the German government. The German Bundesrat has a programme in which the 16 federal states can invite people for a visit of multiple days to Berlin. In this case the travel costs and accommodation are paid for by the Bundesrat. For all reimbursements, the rules apply that the receipts and underlying documents need to be provided to the Bundestag and Bundesrat after the visit. All documents and receipts are checked through an ex-post control.
The United Kingdom has a programme in which costs are reimbursed, and this programme is funded by the commercial tours of the parliament. In this case, it can be MPs, Peers or the House of Commons or Lords who can invite visitors who are eligible for reimbursement.
In Hungary, only schools can get reimbursement for their travel costs and the entry fee for the national parliament. All the receipts need to be provided to the visitor service of the parliament.
Some countries do have other schemes in which they provide coverage for schools or costs are covered by the MPs’ own funds.
The Council of the EU does not sponsor visitor groups. All visits are requested by visitors themselves and they need to cover all the costs related to the visit themselves. The questions were also sent to the European Commission but no answer was received.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

In-Depth Analysis – The EU-Turkey Customs Union and trade relations: what options for the future? – 07-07-2021

This in-depth analysis summarizes the main effects of the Customs Union (CU) on EU-Turkey trade and the economic situation in Turkey. Whereas the CU offers Turkey several economic benefits, it also implies some downsides, in particular asymmetric tariffs in relation to third countries. Against the background of the dynamic development of EU-Turkey relations, the authors assess the impact of four different options for developing EU-Turkey economic and trade relations:
(i) Continuation of the current Customs Union framework as it stands,
(ii) Modernization and upgrading of the Customs Union,
(iii) A transformation of the bilateral trade relations into a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA),
(iv) Suspension of the Customs Union (in which case WTO rules would apply).
The in-depth-analysis describes the options, the challenges the EU-Turkey Customs Union faces and seeks solutions for these issues.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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