As part of its 'Fit for 55' package, the European Commission has today published its proposal for a Regulation setting new CO2 emission standards for heavy duty vehicles - buses and trucks. 

With a headline emission reduction target of -90% by 2040 (vs 2019), this new legislation will dramatically accelerate the pace of decarbonisation in the sector and boost its structural transformation, but the status quo is not an option. The European transport industry needs to renew its road transport fleet, and the EU should seize the opportunity to become a leader in the clean transport industry. At the same time, from a trade union perspective, it is essential that the policy maintains and creates quality jobs. 

It will be crucial to ensure that the strategy contributes to strengthening the EU's industrial leadership in the production of heavy-duty vehicles and related equipment. This will require:

  • An emissions reduction trajectory based on a clean transport industrial strategy. The proposed targets must be compatible with the time needed to convert existing production facilities and build new ones, to roll out charging infrastructure, to secure supply of key components and raw materials, to create lead markets and to train the workforce. 
  • A pace of decarbonisation that is consistent with the implementation of the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan and the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) that will develop key supply chains for the sector in Europe, such as clean hydrogen, batteries or microelectronics.
  • Similarly, the targets must be consistent with the EU's strategy to produce and transport the decarbonised energy needed, while being consistent with technology neutrality to keep in the mobility mix all powertrains that meet the CO2 and emissions standards in line with the Green Deal targets.
  • An enhanced coordination among environmental legislations targeting road transport, such as Euro 7.
  • Fair competition for European OEMs in domestic and international markets.

These technological changes are not 'neutral' for workers. Some of them will lead to massive job losses in certain parts of the value chain. The technologies also have an impact on the skill profiles required in the sector and their rapid introduction could create challenges for some categories of workers (low-skilled, older workers, temporary workers).

In its Just Transition Manifesto, industriAll Europe therefore stresses the need for a policy framework that is fair for workers. When it comes to heavy duty vehicles, a just transition must mean:

  • In-depth supply chain impact assessments to avoid disruptive changes for workers. These impact assessments must also better reflect the impact of decarbonising transport at a regional level.
  • The provision of adequate funding to support regions facing difficulties as a result of the decarbonisation agenda, bearing in mind the importance of social conditionality in state aid.
  • The need to anticipate change at all levels (sites, companies, regions and sectors) through plans developed with trade unions.
  • A massive effort by public authorities and companies to retrain and up-skill workers.

Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary:

“As industrial trade unions, we support the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, but we insist on the need for a just transition for workers and a job-rich industrial strategy.

“Workers are already bracing for massive change, and we cannot allow disruption. That’s why the new regulation must be designed to secure EU industrial leadership in the production of heavy-duty vehicles and related equipment and ensure a fair transition that preserves and creates quality jobs. Just transition principles have been anchored in climate legislation for passenger cars. The same approach must prevail for trucks and busses”.

Industrial Europe will continue to discuss the proposal with its members and follow the next steps in the decision-making process to ensure that this legislation guarantees a fair transition for workers.

IndustriAll Europe policy documents:

Just Transition Manifesto