In 2021, the European Commission tabled a series of legislative proposals — the so-called Fit For 55 legislative package. The aim is to revise the current 2030 climate and energy policy framework in order to deliver the new EU climate target, i.e. a 55% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 . To complement the Fit For 55 Package, the Commission also proposed a Council recommendation on ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality. It is a tool to help Member States devise and implement policy packages that ensure a fair transition towards climate neutrality, by addressing the relevant social aspects linked to the transition in a comprehensive manner. If adopted, Member States will be expected to implement the social, economic and fiscal measures outlined in the Recommendation.

Since the launch of the first part of legislative proposals under the Fit For 55 Package in July 2021, concerns about the potential distributional impacts of climate measures proposed by the European Commission have been voiced by various actors. The EU climate and energy files do not systematically include a deep and consistent analysis of the positive and negative distributional and social impacts of proposed measures. While some flanking measures are being proposed — for example, to mitigate the adverse distributional impacts of the proposed climate policy measures on cost of essentials such as heating and transport fuels through the European Social Climate Fund -, more could be done to ensure a systematic integration of the labour and broader social dimension at the design stage. Meanwhile, social policies barely refer to the impacts of the climate crisis — for example, the recently adopted European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan does not mention climate. This situation illustrates the existing gap between social and climate policies, and the need to build better synergies between them, and even think about them in a comprehensive manner, as complementary elements of a just and green transition. Although the European Green Deal clearly calls for bringing up opportunities for everyone, there is a significant need for social and climate policy proposals to complement each other, provide clear guidance to tackle the root causes of inequalities, and maximise justice and equity while effectively contributing to emissions reduction.

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How to Maximise Social Benefits of Climate Action Report