The European Commission announced yesterday details of its Green Deal Industrial Plan, which would see around 250 billion in EU funds, and billions more in national state aid, given to clean tech companies.
The swift and coordinated response to the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act was essential to speeding-up Europe’s transition to a green economy and keeping quality jobs in Europe.
However, while skills are one of the policy’s four pillars, the proposal does not include any social conditions on the funding which would ensure it is used to create quality jobs and apprenticeships.
Without such conditions, there is a clear danger that regulatory simplification could lead to deregulation and put downward pressure on working conditions. There is also no mention of human rights due diligence needed to stop the exploitation of workers in supply chains around the world.
The absence of social conditions comes despite the fact that the proposal says “greater competitiveness must go hand in hand with well-paid quality jobs” and Commissioner Vestager rightly said: "State aid is a transfer from taxpayers to shareholders, we need to ensure aid produces a common good.”
It is also in stark contrast to the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes measures to ensure subsidies lead to higher wages and better working conditions.
The ETUC and industriAll Europe met Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis last week to call for the following social conditions to be included:
- Bargain with trade unions and respect for collective agreements
- Information and consultation with unions on merger and investment decisions;
- Avoid redundancies and deterioration of working conditions;
- Ban dividend payments while a company is in receipt of any form of public funding;
- Reskilling and the creation of high-quality apprenticeships and graduate roles.
Trade unions are also concerned that foundation industries have not been identified as strategic in the proposal.
ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said:
“The green deal is an opportunity to cub carbon at the same time as raising pay, but this announcement is a blank cheque for CEOs printed on recycled paper.
“Despite saying the right things about quality jobs, the plan simply doesn’t include the social conditions on how money is spent which would ensure that they are created.
“As it stands, private companies will receive billions of Euros in public money without having to make any commitment to pay decent wages, respect workers’ rights or create quality jobs and apprenticeships.
“The EU has rightly been quick to match the United States when it comes to green subsidies but is falling far behind when it comes to taking this opportunity to raise social standards.”
IndustriAll Europe General Secretary Luc Triangle said:
"IndustriAll Europe has been calling for a substantial industrial strategy at European level - and it is welcome news that the Inflation Reduction Act has triggered greater attention to the vital importance of our manufacturing base.
“But the failure to attach strong social conditions to the financial support handed to companies is a major concern for the 25 million manufacturing workers in Europe who will potentially be affected by the restructuring associated with greening our economy. They need support to make the transition fair.
"The Green Deal industrial strategy will only be a success for Europe if it steps up its social game and ensures a fair transition with worker participation, quality jobs and high social standards."