In the presence of Vice-President Šefčovič, MEP Jerzy Buzek, the Marshal of Silesia and representatives of the major stakeholders, the Annual Political Dialogue addressed three important topics: the stocktaking of what was so far achieved and how to encourage more concrete discussions and actions, the EU Budget 2021-2027, and what is in store for coal regions and how to attract private sector investments to them.
As part of the stocktaking industriAll Europe has been specifically addressed to explain how to increase trade union participation in the platform. We stressed the importance of effective social dialogue and the involvement of trade unions in long-term structural planning on all levels to ensure a just transition for workers is implemented. We stressed the fact that workers in affected sectors experiencing the impacts of the energy transition already today or in the future, need to see real alternatives and economic perspectives with the creation of new high-quality jobs in their regions to gain their support.
The Coal Regions in Transition Platform is an opportunity being offered to us addressing the just transition of workers and translates the concept of a just transition into practice, by using the potential spill-over effects that good practices in some countries might have and by ensuring trade unions are not passive observers in the transition, but an active force. It is crucial that we insist on the involvement of trade unions at the EU level as a practice in each Member State as well, contrary to the trends many of our national members have been witnessing. Trade unions must be actively involved when it comes to shaping structural change. Our involvement must go beyond the issue of re-skilling and up-skilling of workers to address a much-needed sustainable industrial policy in order to manage the transition in coal and carbon-intensive regions. This was a main issue shared with the Directorate-General (DG) for Energy at our recent meeting of the Energy Network on 14 November.
During the Annual Political Dialogue on 30 November industriAll Europe was joined by trade unions from the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Poland and Romania and we are counting on other trade unions to join the platform meetings to show our determination in shaping the future of coal regions and finding a solution for each worker that might be affected by the transition.
What is next:
The Commission will set up a secretariat for providing technical assistance to coal regions in transition and a centre for expertise. It aims at involving at least 12 coal regions from 41 identified coal regions in the EU with at least 10 comprehensive plans for structural change and eco-innovation.
The European Parliament has voted in favour of setting up a Just Energy Transition Fund worth EUR 4.8 Bn as part of the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 in mid-November which would be an important signal to coal regions in transition and their workers if adopted.
The next meeting of the WGs will most likely be organised in March 2019. All relevant information concerning the events will be shared with you when we receive it.