On Wednesday, the Employment and Social Affairs Committee adopted a report that aims to protect jobs and workers’ rights in light of climate change and the digital transition.
The own-initiative report, adopted with 36 votes in favour, 6 against, and 0 abstentions, highlights that the just transition - greening the economy in a fair and inclusive way - creates new opportunities for the labour market, especially in the energy and circular economy sectors, while at the same time it could lead to increased unemployment in certain sectors.
Investments to address skills gaps
Workers should benefit from the opportunities the just transition brings, the text says, for example in terms of new employment and training programmes. They highlight the importance of access to funding for social economy companies, so that they are well equipped to address the skills gaps resulting from the green transition.
To generate decent work and improved living conditions, MEPs call on the European Commission to support the role of cooperatives and the social economy in the just transition.
Support for those negatively affected
MEPs also call for measures for sectors and industries affected by unemployment because of the green and digital transition. They emphasise the need for robust national security schemes and safety nets to complement jobs creation measures, including adequate minimum income support and adequate unemployment benefits to support workers impacted by the transition.
Up- and re-skilling
In the report, MEPs emphasise the importance of updating and learning new skills in the just transition, making sure that both current and future workers are well equipped for the jobs it brings. They stress the need to invest significantly in people and to offer quality education and training in areas linked to skills needed for the just transition.
European Just Transition Observatory
As the just transition requires actions across many levels, including the involvement of local and regional partners, social partners and civil society, MEPs call for the creation of a European Just Transition Observatory. This observatory would be a space for these partners to exchange knowledge and information, and where they can monitor the implementation of policies and measures related to the European Green Deal on employment, quality jobs, and working conditions.
Rapporteur Sara Matthieu (Greens/EFA, BE), said: "The consequences of climate change are severe and potentially catastrophic for our planet. The EU is working hard to fight the effects of climate change and to protect citizens from the worst by transitioning to a circular economy. This green transition comes with the opportunity to create new jobs, and right now, we have the momentum to make sure that these new jobs are sustainable, have decent working conditions such as fair pay, and that investments with a positive environmental and social impact are secured."
The Parliament will vote on the draft report in one of the upcoming plenary sessions.
According the International Labour Organisation, the just transition aims to green the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind.
In January 2020, the European Commission presented the Just Transition Mechanism, a tool to provide targeted support to regions and sectors that are most affected by the transition towards the green economy.