The situation that we find ourselves in is extremely serious and we need to debate how we address it collectively as a united trade union movement.

The European Parliament election results are a wake-up call. There is a democratic majority in the European Parliament, which means there is no need, or excuse, for backroom deals with any part of the anti-worker far-right. Cooperation with far-right forces in the European Parliament must be rejected.

The election results make clear that there cannot be a ‘business as usual’ approach. This is not a ‘shock’ result for trade unionists in Europe. This is a call to action. For all our sakes. Years of economic austerity, attacks on good quality jobs, and ever-growing inequalities have damaged people across Europe and undermined trust in politicians. They have created greater social fragmentation and created a seedbed of anxiety and insecurity for the extreme right to feed on. The far right offer easy answers to the complex challenges we face – they sow division and hate, promoting scapegoating and ‘othering’.

“We must recognise a very basic fact: there is no national solution to the transnational problems we face economically, socially, geopolitically or environmentally. We need European solutions! To do that, we need a social, fair and future-proofed Europe which delivers concrete solutions for EU citizens, wherever they live”, said Judith Kirton-Darling, industriall Europe’s General Secretary.

Democrats across our wider labour movement must urgently work together to deliver what Europe needs to tackle the challenges of our times: investment, cohesion and solidarity. For industriAll Europe, this means a strong, proactive European industrial policy. This cannot be delivered alongside austerity: we must fight to turn over the recent decisions of the European Parliament and European Council on fiscal rules.

At the same time, industrial workers are embarked on a huge transformation of our industries. The latest European industrial production figures show that there is still a major crisis in our manufacturing industries, especially in energy intensive industries, which have been hit hard by high energy prices over recent years.

Neoliberalism is leading us to deindustrialisation – not decarbonisation. Yesterday’s failed recipes of austerity, labour-market flexibility and privatisation will only exacerbate the problems we face.

The embrace of short-termism by multinational corporations – reflected by their preference for cost-cutting, excessive dividends and share buybacks over reinvestment of profits – has further undermined the EU manufacturing sector’s dynamism and resilience. This is all too visible in the automotive industry.

“The EU can’t talk about open strategic autonomy yet do nothing when our industries are threatened by massive foreign subsidies abroad. Whereas major economies adopt aggressive policies to protect their markets or export their massive overcapacity, Europe can’t stay silent and passive. The election results were a wake-up call but it is not too late to change direction”, continued Judith Kirton-Darling.

Exceptional times demand innovative solutions, not more of the same, failed policies. That’s why industriAll Europe welcomed the EU’s decision last week to tax imports of Chinese electric vehicles. Protective import taxes alone are not an industrial policy. Industrial workers want to see a comprehensive strategy to transform our industries, like the European automotive industry, to address the scale and pace of the climate challenge.

All public support and funding must have social strings attached to promote collective bargaining, worker participation and good job guarantees. Investment in charging infrastructure, purchase incentives, supply of batteries and raw materials, abundant, decarbonised electricity production, and a genuine and just transition framework for workers are the key enabling elements we need to secure the future of the European industry. We need a fair-trading framework at the same time.

Short-sighted nationalistic populism is no substitute for the holistic industrial strategy Europe needs to match those of its competitors: an approach that accounts for all dimensions of the challenges ahead.

“Together in the trade union movement we must stand united to counter the siren songs of the far right. The international trade union alliance established by the CGIL is a tool in this fight. We must not be afraid to counter the rhetoric and false narratives from the shop floor to the European Parliament, and we must be united to do this.

“Within industriAll Europe, we recognise that last week’s results mean that the political centre will be able to find a coalition, but if a business as usual’ approach is allowed to take hold in 5 years’ time and at national elections in-between, we risk fuelling hateful and divisive forces.

“Another way is possible. Another Europe is possible. No Pasarán! Solidarity to you all!”, concluded Judith Kirton-Darling.