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In 2009 each Member State set its own percentage share of energy that should be coming from sources such as the sun, wind and sea by 2020. These levels took into account the starting point, the potential for renewable production and the economic position of each country. Now Eurostat, the E.U.’s statistical arm, has published figures which measure their progress as of 2013. Sweden is consuming by far the highest proportion of energy from these sources, 51.2%, and has already reached its 2020 target as have Bulgaria and Estonia. While Luxembourg (3.6%), Malta (3.8%) and the Netherlands (4.5%) comprise the bottom three of the league table, the U.K. is the furthest short of its aspirations needing a rise of 9.9 percentage points to meet the deadline. Overall there has been a substantial rise in renewable energy across the E.U. from 8.3% of total energy consumed in 2004 to 15% in 2013.
Collective bargaining in EU has declined since crisis hit
Collective bargaining, the process whereby trade unions, or other representative bodies, negotiate the terms and conditions of a group of workers, has been the lifeblood of the European Social Model, the kind of society that has held sway in the EU since its founding. Now, it seems, that it is in decline: recent research has shown the proportion of employees subject to this kind of agreement fell from 68% in 2002 to 61% in 2012. Although this process was under way before the financial crash it was accelerated by measures taken since that event. The strictures of the ‘troika’ in countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal have made it much harder for unions to cut deals for whole sectors of the economy while bans on automatic renewal, and devolution of negotiation to the company level, have led to a reduction in coverage.