Context – The European Commission today published its proposal for a Council Recommendation aiming at ensuring that the Union’s transition towards a climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050 is fair and leaves nobody behind, in line with the European pillar of Social Rights. The proposal invites Member States to adopt and implement comprehensive and coherent policy packages to address the employment and social aspects to promote a fair transition.
ETUC reaction – Reducing rapidly the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions is a top priority for European trade unions, since there are no jobs on a dead planet. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as the floods that affected Europe this summer, reminds us of the urgent need to act. For that reason, the ETUC supports the increase in the climate ambition proposed in the Fit for 55 package. However, these policies will have strong socio-economic consequences, impacting workers from many different sectors. Those social and labour impacts have not been sufficiently tackled by the European Green Deal so far.
In that context, the ETUC welcomes and supports the narrative and intentions behind Council Recommendation on ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality. The fact that the Commission puts more focus on the social and labour dimension of the transition is positive and many of the recommendations proposed go in the right direction.
For example, the ETUC particularly welcomes the recommendations to strengthen the role of social partners and social dialogue, to safeguard quality of jobs, to support the development of skills and training, to ensure adequate social protection and strengthen public services, to develop granular and high-quality data to assess the employment, social and distributional impacts of climate change policies etc. All these priorities are shared by ETUC and providing such recommendations is a good first step.
However, the ETUC believes that issuing recommendations to Member States is not sufficient in view of the challenges that are at stake. Achieving a just transition means taking strong measures to ensure that new jobs created will be quality jobs and that workers from regions and sectors most affected will receive adequate support and alternative opportunities. Climate policies – adopted through the very concrete Fit for 55 package – should be accompanied by concrete legislative proposals on the social and labour aspects. Adopting hard laws for climate aspects while leaving the choice to Member States to tackle the social impacts constitutes a double standard and does not send the right signal to EU citizens that Europe is there to protect them.
The Recommendation proposed by the Commission also remain flawed when it comes to the financing of the just transition. As previously highlighted by ETUC, the Just Transition Fund remains way too limited both in terms of size and scope and it is regrettable that the Commission does not provide any answer to that concern. The Commission could also have used this opportunity to push for more social conditionality in the use of the various EU fund.
To complement this Council Recommendation, ETUC calls for the swift adoption of a Just Transition Legal Framework by EU policy makers. Our detailed proposals for such framework can be found here.
Commenting on the Commission’s proposal, Ludovic Voet, ETUC Confederal Secretary said:
“Trade Unions strongly support the climate ambition of the Fit for 55 package. However, those policies will have a strong impact on workers from many sectors. Those social and labour impacts have not been sufficiently tackled in the European Green Deal so far and deserve more political attention.
“The fact that the Commission is now putting more focus on the social and labour dimension of the European Green Deal is good news. Many of the recommendations proposed go in the right direction.
“However, recommendations to member states is not sufficient, we need concrete legislation to accompany the Fit for 55 package to make sure that new jobs created are quality jobs and that workers from regions and sectors most affected will all receive adequate support and alternative opportunities.
“The ETUC now calls on member states to implement the recommendations by setting just transition strategies with trade unions and social partners and for EU policy makers to swiftly adopt a Just Transition Legal Framework to provide the right legislative tools to ensure workers’ rights to a socially fair transition that build on new opportunities and leaves nobody behind.”