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On 14 January the European Commission presented its proposals for a Just transition mechanism and a sustainable investment action plan.

As an organisation representing workers in sectors that both contribute and are at the same affected by the climate crisis, EFFAT affiliates look at the EU Commission announced initiatives with high expectations.

Overall, EFFAT welcomes the declared intention to combine climate policies with social measures and considers positively the creation of a Just transition mechanism including a  just transition fund aimed at mitigating the impact for workers in the ambitious journey to a climate neutral continent.

The announced instruments include encouraging elements. However, there is a real risk that it will  fail to address the objectives they have been intended for.

Commenting on the Commission proposals, EFFAT points out some concerns over the following:

  • Budget restriction: Looking at the funding behind the investment plan, EFFAT is concerned to see that only 100 bln euros are reserved to the just transition mechanism over the period 2021-2027, with only 7,5 bln of fresh cash directly coming from the EU pocket for the Just Transition Fund: this is definitely too little to deal in a socially sustainable manner with the consequences of the expected transformation.

The new fund will also be supported by resources coming from the EU’s cohesion policy, including the Common agriculture policy that will direct 40% of its total envelope to support climate-related objectives. In this regard, it will be important to keep national governments and EU institutions engagement to invest in cohesion as in the past.

As already stated in our reaction on the EU Green Deal, EFFAT fears that potential budget restrictions may severely limit the scope of the project, to the cost of workers, especially if funding is deployed mostly to research and investment rather than training programmes and up- and reskilling  of workers.

  • Workers’ miss out: The Commission’s approach to the eligibility criteria for funds is quite restrictive, as funding can be allocated only to those countries that apply and present a Just Transition Plan. This means that many workers all over Europe will not be able to benefit funds as it will not be mandatory for all member states to propose just transition plans.
  • Social partners’ involvement: Social partners must be further involved in the development and implementation of policies and strategies for ambitious emissions reductions in order to ensure a Just Transition that guarantees decent jobs and that strikes a balance between clean energy systems and sustainable high-quality jobs. Trade unions should be present in the foreseen Just Transition platform in order to shield workers interests at different levels.

Commenting on the two proposals Kristjan Bragason, EFFAT Secretary General said: ‘With the EU Green Deal it is evident that the EU is willing to tackle the climate emergency we are facing. This is certainly a positive sign; however, it is disappointing to see that the amount of resources available to deliver on those objectives is clearly insufficient at the moment. EFFAT firmly believes that the EU green deal and just transition mechanisms will only be successful if they are able to ensure a sustainable future and a new vision for the EU whilst granting protection and social justice for all”.

Finally, EFFAT favorably notices that the Commission recognises that significant investment will be necessary in other sectors as well, notably agriculture, to tackle the broader environmental challenges for the natural and human capital and social investment. EFFAT hopes that this will be reflected in the concrete support of agriculture workers.