On 27 September, the European Commission organised, in close cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee, a high-level conference to discuss the main findings of the 2019 Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review.
The European Commission develops in this report that the transition to a sustainable Europe with a circular, low-carbon economy has positive effects on growth, employment and well-being, including net job gains of up to 2 million jobs by 2050. The Commission however asserts that the transition is not inclusive by default. It should lead to fundamental changes in production patterns, consumption behaviour and skills needs, and it will require an important reallocation of labour across sectors and regions. It could also aggravate energy poverty.
In the ESDE, the EU Commission renews its commitment to implement the EU 2020 strategy and the Sustainable Development Agenda guided by the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). The ESDE report points out to several important points for CEEP to consider, including that, today, almost one household out of ten in the EU cannot afford to keep their house adequately warm or pay on time their utility bill. This affects both low-income and middle-income households, notably when energy costs increase faster than total disposable household income. Access to quality services is a major factor in granting citizens access to the labour market and ensuring their well-being. The ESDE consecrates this idea after repeated calls from CEEP to properly implement the principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights on the access to essential services which concerns many important sectors within CEEP’s membership including water, energy, housing, transport and energy. The Commission points out several instruments to foster an enabling framework of policies and programmes in support of a just transition to an environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy. In particular:
- the InvestEU programme which provides an EU Budget guarantee to support investment and access to finance in the EU for sustainable infrastructure, research, innovation and digitalization, SMEs, social investments and skills.
- The European Structural and investment funds, notably the ESF, which offers financial support to meet investment needs for reskilling and retraining and transition support.
- The modernisation fund of the EU emission Trading system which promotes just transition in carbon-dependent regions in the beneficiary Member States.
- The involvement of social partners in the design and implementation of these policies.
- The Pillar of Social Rights and its principle on access to essential services.
The new European Commission, and in particular Nicolas Schmit, proposed as Commissioner for Jobs by European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, will take up this issue, and CEEP will keep on pushing for the proper implementation of the Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights to the new EU leadership, in line with the recommendations of the ESDE.