Raw materials strategies must be part of the Just Transition agenda in Europe!

Securing the supply of raw materials for our industries is increasingly a political priority in the context of the Green Deal and post-Covid supply chain shortages. This week the debate moves to the Council of Ministers of the EU, as today and tomorrow (31 January - 1 February), the French Presidency of the EU Council is organising an informal exchange between ministers for industry from the 27 members states in this key topic for European industrial workers.

Trade unions have long been calling for a stronger EU strategy on raw materials to move towards greater independence through the sustainable exploitation of our own resources, as well as security of supply through a joint and fairer external agenda.

This week’s ministerial discussions are due to focus on non-EU raw materials, the role of the circular economy and innovation but also on how the EU can increase its domestic production of raw materials and what requirements must be met on the labour and environmental front. For industriAll European Trade Union, this is key.

Ahead of the meeting, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary Judith Kirton-Darling said:

“We need to rebuild societal trust in extractive industries because they are vital to achieve a green and just transition here and abroad. Securing decent jobs and good working conditions, but also high environmental standards, will result in a triple win for the economy, environment and workers in the extractive industries”. 

She added: “Raw materials strategies must be part of the Just Transition agenda in Europe!”

In its recommendations for 'Critical Raw Materials Resilience', industriAll Europe insists on the fact that sustainable raw materials need a strong social dimension, securing decent work and good working conditions, protecting worker’s rights and effective social dialogue on the sector and company level. The social dimension must also cover improving skills levels, education and training. Protecting workers in the extractive industries will also require solid commitment to occupational health and safety. Safer industries for workers, are usually cleaner industries for the environment too.

But this crucial theme is not only the focus of ministerial debate. Today, industriAll Europe is also taking part in a dialogue in the EESC on 'Critical Raw Materials: an essential building block for the future of Europe'. In this setting, industriAll Europe will insist on the importance of the circular economy in securing markets and supply chains for secondary raw materials. Here too, the social dimension must be strengthened to ensure the quality of jobs in the recycling and processing of secondary raw materials sectors across Europe. Through an ambitious political agenda, industriAll Europe sees opportunities for all regions to benefit from the EU’s raw materials strategy while securing the sustainable raw materials on which the green transition will be built.

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (press and communication), Sophie Grenade (policy adviser)