Workers need clarity on the place of gas in the energy transition. It is high time to return to social dialogue as social partners must jointly anticipate change and offer clear perspectives to workers.

The European gas sector is currently facing major challenges. The EU long-term strategy ‘A clean planet for all’ attests “a large uncertainty on the role of gas in the long term” and points out that this will be “a challenge for planning the energy transition and in particular, for planning the future of the gas infrastructure”. The Commission expects a decline of the role of natural gas by 2050 but sees clear potential for increasing deployment of biogas, e-gas, hydrogen and power-to-gas. Decarbonising gas could also play a critical role in the decarbonisation of high temperature processes in industry.

In the light of these uncertainties the European Social Partners, industriAll European Trade Union and EPSU, representing the trade unions and Eurogas, representing the employers, have decided that it is high time to return to social dialogue. Workers in the sector need a clear vision on the place of gas in the energy transition in order to anticipate changes in employment structures. The social dialogue can provide a platform for these discussions.

Eurogas, EPSU and IndustriAll Europe have a long-standing history of cooperation on European energy questions and policies. This good cooperation was formally recognized by the establishment of a Sectoral Social Dialogue in the Gas sector at EU level in 2007. The dialogue was put on standby for a few years. Both employers and trade unions, expressed the clear need to reactivate joint activities in order to tackle above-mentioned challenges.

It is now up to the social partners to lead a constructive dialogue and plan the future of the workforce. A first step in this direction will be a study assessing the impact of the transition on employment structures, skills needs and the industry’s capacity to meet these needs. Just Transition will be high on the agenda. Social Partners will closely monitor the political debate around the Green Deal and how to translate it into a socially fair transition.

Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe said “Returning to a genuine social dialogue with the European employers in the gas sector comes at a crucial point in the discussion about the EU’s long-term decarbonisation strategy. At present, there are many uncertainties regarding the future role of gas and what place renewable gas and hydrogen will take in the economy. Social partners must jointly anticipate change and offer clear perspectives to workers!”

Read the joint press release here: EN, DE, FR

Contact senior policy adviser Corinna Zierold for more information or further comment.