we have one strong message for the European Commission: make sure that the new fiscal rules do not block investments and do not jeopardise the twin green and digital transition in Member States

The TSS is a forum for dialogue between the EU institutions, at president level, and the European social partners. The title of this summit was ’Giving the right answers to Europe’s competitiveness challenges - how to make Europe the place to be for industrial investments creating growth and quality jobs’.

The meeting focused on the competitive transformation of the industrial sectors and the skills agenda needed to tackle the skills shortages in our different sectors. The current effects of the war in Ukraine and the challenges created by the US Inflation Reduction Act were also discussed.
At the meeting, chaired by Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, industriAll Europe General Secretary Luc Triangle stressed the concerns and demands that trade unions have for the future of European industries.

“There is only one way to ensure a competitive transformation in all European industrial sectors, while delivering an economically sound and just transition. We must provide and allow for all the necessary investments, that come with the necessary social strings attached. It is only by investing in our industries and in people that Europe can maintain its competitive advantage and ensure a successful green and Just Transition.” said Luc Triangle.

Last week, the European Commission published two important legislative proposals: the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) and the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), that show promising and positive steps towards the inclusion of a social dimension. While industriAll Europe welcomes the fact that the social dimension and workers have made it onto the agenda, we remain vigilant and concerned by the limitation that the reform of the EU economic governance rules could impose on Member States’ investment capacities.

“Therefore, we have one strong message for the European Commission” said Luc Triangle, “Make sure that the new fiscal rules do not block investments and do not jeopardise the twin green and digital transition in Member States.”

It is crucial that the new rules correct the mistakes of of the ones made after the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Member States must have the necessary fiscal leeway to be able to invest in their industries and their people. As it stands today, 14 Member States do not meet the arbitrary 3% criteria and risk having rigid expenditure rules imposed. This can not be accepted.

“We also need to bridge the investment gap in Europe. For this, we need a European Investment Plan and supportive fiscal rules. A European industrial policy linked to the objectives of the Green Deal has been created. Implementation has to follow and must be made available to all Member States.”

The same message applies for the Skills Agenda and the European Year of Skills.

“We need investments in attractive, good quality jobs. We need investments in training, and we need investments in workers. This is indispensable to combat and avoid skills shortages. Labour migration as an ‘easy-fix’ is not the solution.”

The key to retain workers is job quality and good working conditions. It is reported that the most difficulties in retaining workers are a reality in the textile, non-metallic and metal production sectors. The sectors with the least retention problem are the chemical and energy sectors. Good working conditions, higher wages and good quality jobs make the difference.

“Skills shortages can prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the green transition, unless policymakers and companies shoulder their responsibility and develop a unified and concrete approach, combined with profound social dialogue with trade unions. The US has taught us a lesson with the Inflation Reduction Act, by directly linking tax incentives for companies with training obligations and the creation of apprenticeships,” concluded Luc Triangle.