Crucially governments must now cap energy prices to avoid an escalation of the crisis which will further hurt the most vulnerable in our societies

Reacting to the proposals, industriAll European Trade Union has recalled that cooperation and solidarity between European countries is critical in the weeks and months ahead, but that workers impacted by gas and energy reductions must also be shown solidarity by employers and governments.

IndustriAll Europe’s General Secretary Luc Triangle stressed, “These proposals will have enormous implications for our members and workers across Europe – there must be detailed social impact assessments and dialogue with the social partners to ensure that we do not inflict further long-term damage on our societies in responding to this critical situation. We need rescue packages to cushion the impact on citizens on the one hand and measures to ensure decent industrial work on the other hand, for example in the form of financing, capital aid and guarantees

“Crucially governments must now cap energy prices to avoid an escalation of the crisis which will further hurt the most vulnerable in our societies. This is a monumental challenge for the EU, but all means must be used to ensure a functioning gas supply even in the event of a lack of deliveries from Russia.”

IndustriAll Europe has argued that foundation industries must be considered of strategic importance and protected as such in the energy supply crisis. In addition to the significant number of jobs at stake (almost 8 million for the Energy Intensive Industries’ ecosystem, according to the European Commission), these industries are the cornerstone of Europe’s strategic autonomy since they provide basic products and materials crucial to many other industrial ecosystems. Due to their specific nature, technology switches will take time and require massive investment and therefore are often not a short-term option. This is why trade unions believe that Member States’ demand reduction plans must be designed with the active involvement of social partners from the sectors at stake, from the get-go.

Plans must provide a detailed social impact assessment, as well as propose specific measures to deal with the possible social impact of massive energy demand reduction plans, such as job losses, temporary unemployment, energy poverty, or reduced purchasing power. IndustriAll Europe has been vocally calling for the European Commission to extend the Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE 2.0) to cope with the energy crisis and its consequences. Short-time working arrangements proved their worth in the pandemic and should be mobilised, with EU financial support where necessary, to avoid job losses.

Furthermore, in order to avoid a further intensification of the skills shortages our industries are witnessing, emergency job support schemes should be tied to reskilling/upskilling programmes designed to address the longer term transition underway.

IndustriAll Europe’s Deputy General Secretary Judith Kirton-Darling underlined, “Short-term emergency measures should not undermine our longer-term objectives, such as reaching climate neutrality through Just Transition and building Europe’s open strategic autonomy, including in the energy industrial ecosystem and the related supply chains. We can all see that in the absence of the adequate alternative decarbonised energy infrastructure, there is a temporary reverting to fossil fuels at the moment, but we have to keep the compass set or we will miss the critical investment window to reach climate neutrality by 2050”.

“Relaxation of health and environmental regulatory restrictions must only be limited and temporary. Energy security cannot be built at the expense of the universal right to a healthy and sustainable environment, including for workers and communities working and living nearby industrial installations. It cannot undermine the targets set in the Paris Agreement and the need to ensure the prosperity of future generations”.

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (Press & Comms)