This week, the European Commission organizes a series of virtual events for EU Industry Days 2021. ETUC takes this opportunity to remind policy makers about the crucial importance of EU industry for European prosperity and highlight its key recommendations ahead of the publication of the revised New Industrial Strategy for Europe, expected in mid-March.
Industrial sectors provide almost 33 million direct jobs to European. In most of these jobs, workers are offered decent wages, decent working conditions and can rely on strong unions to defend their rights. These industries constitute the backbone of EU’s economy and generate millions of additional indirect jobs in other sectors and across the value chain, therefore contributing to EU’s prosperity.
At the same time, EU Industries are facing multiple challenges and the next decade will be crucial for the future of those industrial jobs. The need to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and the transition to a circular economy will require profound changes in technologies, infrastructure and production processes. The necessary transition to a more connected and digital economy will also entail major transformations. More recently, the COVID19 crisis brought additional and immediate challenges for these industries by causing significant disruptions in supply chains, a major drop in demand and by impacting investment capacities of companies and public authorities. All these challenges will affect workers and employment across Europe. A comprehensive Industrial Strategy is urgently needed to ensure a fair recovery from the current crisis and a just transition towards a climate neutral and more digital world.
ETUC asks the European Commission to include the following in the revised version of its new Industrial Strategy for Europe:
- ETUC asks the European Commission to revise its strategy to address the new challenges brought by the COVID19 outbreak. The Commission should map the impacts of the crisis on the different industrial sectors and assess their needs for a complete recovery. The new Industrial Strategy should be the blueprint of a roadmap to speed up industrial recovery and avoid irreversible damages to employment and skills. It should also be closely linked with national recovery plans.
- ETUC calls on the European Commission to strengthen and develop the social dimension of its strategy. The New Industrial Strategy should put a stronger focus on the protection and creation of quality jobs that offer good wages and good working conditions. The strategy should also contain measures to ensure adequate training and social protection for workers in transition, especially in most vulnerable regions and sectors. Finally, it should include more ambitious measures to ensure convergence and solidarity between regions and countries in the EU.
- ETUC calls on the European Commission to go one step further towards an inclusive governance. Through effective social dialogue and collective bargaining, the New Industrial Strategy for Europe should ensure workers’ information, consultation and participation in the transitions. This is even more relevant as many industries will undergo restructuring processes due to COVID19 crisis. The strategy should provide the right framework to avoid mass redundancies and to allow social partners to find a solution for each worker involved in a restructuring process.
- To close the investment gap necessary to achieve the green and digital transition, the new industrial strategy for Europe will need sufficient investment and funding. The twin transitions will require the mobilisation of massive public and private investments as well as fair and effective taxation systems. These are two prerequisites for a successful EU industrial strategy, especially in the context of the COVID19 crisis.
- To achieve the transition towards climate neutrality, ETUC insists on the need to develop sectorial decarbonisation roadmaps to ensure a just transition of the workforce and accelerate the development of low carbon infrastructures and technologies. ETUC calls for a true climate neutral Industrial Strategy that fosters investments and strengthens employment and strategic value chains in the EU in a way that helps achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. The new EU Industrial Strategy, together with the Circular Economy Action Plan, should be the cornerstone of EU climate action and provide the necessary policy and financial tools for European industry to go green.
- ETUC calls for digitalisation of EU industry that is fair and benefits workers. The Strategy should address the new opportunities and challenges brought by the increasing importance of data, by automation and artificial intelligence. At the same time, COVID 19 has accelerated the digital transformation of the world of work. Those transformations will need to be properly addressed to avoid any negative impact on workers and employment.
Link to ETUC position on the New Industrial Strategy for Europe
 Eurostat figures, 2020, does not include construction