Promoting a resource-efficient Europe: involve workers, ensure regulation and provide financial resources today!

Brussels, 16/12/2011

The ETUC welcomes the EU’s setting of objectives on resource efficiency. Globally, progress is very slow on this, with clear lack of political will from other Western powers and emerging countries. It is worth stressing therefore that the draft conclusions recognise that the transformation of the economy “onto a sustainable and responsible resource-efficient path should also contribute to the recovery from the current economic crisis and bring increased competitiveness and new sources of growth and jobs through cost savings from improved efficiency.”

This is also the perspective of the ETUC and the reason why we have consistently called on the European Union to adopt “a Sustainable New Deal for Europe,” ensuring significant investment to promote an energy- and resource-efficient society.

However, it is equally as important to ensure a just transition for workers, to guarantee that quality jobs are maintained and created. In the current context, this is indispensable as a result of rising job insecurity throughout Europe, a rise in subcontracting without the guarantees provided by social dialogue and collective bargaining agreements, and sizeable gaps in terms of training opportunities for workers blocking them from acquiring the necessary skills to use “greener” technologies in all sectors.

Accordingly, the ETUC calls on the Council to recognise that “… the shift towards a sustainable and responsible resource-efficient European economy and society will require, in addition to technological innovation …”, as well a need for the active involvement of workers and the reinforcement of social dialogue at all levels (European, national, regional, sector, company, etc.), so as to provide protection also for workers involved in the extraction of raw materials globally.

Furthermore, the ETUC stresses that concrete measures must be adopted as a matter of urgency. Europe cannot content itself with setting ambitious goals for 2050 alone. To reach them, it must allocate adequate financial resources today and ensure the regulatory framework needed to embark on this fundamental transformation. Elements include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% to 40% by 2020, developing sectoral roadmaps to stimulate resource efficiency, promoting closed loop production and substitution, and preventing speculation on the natural commodities and cartels.

This offers a route out of the crisis, and it is will be fundamental to ensuring that the Rio+20 Summit will be a success, as desired by the Council. Providing crucial EU input through concrete measures for a global transition to a more sustainable and resource-efficient and green economy in a context of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.

Press release