Recovery Plan – Commission must be clearer on social fairness and just transition

The European Commission’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, published on Thursday,  provides few clues as to how it intends to deliver greater social fairness that it commits to in its €750bn Recovery and Resilience Plan, warns the ETUC.

The Survey is supposed to show the next steps for the EU’s recovery, but does not reveal the next steps for social fairness and just transition.

ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr said  “The ETUC has strongly advocated an ambitious EU Recovery Plan. It has broadly welcomed the adoption of the €750bn Plan in June, and supports strong investment in climate action and digitalisation.

“The ETUC fully agrees with the Commission that fairness needs to be addressed, including in public health and social protection, care services and accessible and affordable quality health care.

Skills are important but by no means the only issue in coping with climate and digital transformations: a sound process for just transition has to be put in place through social dialogue, to boost quality job creation and active labour market policies so that no one is left behind.

We ask the Commission to be more ambitious and explicit in ensuring that the social and just transition dimensions are fully integrated in the ASGS and in #NextGenerationEU.

“Going through the figures attached to the ASGS, it seems the Commission has recovered part of the funds the Council cut on 21st July, such as the Just Transition Fund, the Solvency Support Instrument, the Health Programme and Horizon Europe. We now expect the Commission to secure these changes in the tripartite negotiations that will start soon with Council and Parliament.

“Social investment is desperately needed to tackle the inequalities and drive economic growth. While everybody keeps repeating that we shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past, the fact is that the ASGS mentions several times the need to respect the austerity-driving Stability and Growth Pact. There must be no return now or in future years to the disastrously damaging austerity following the 2008 financial crisis.

“Finally, we welcome the Commission’s recommendation in the ASGS to Member States to involve social partners in the preparation of their recovery and resilience plans. This has been a weak point throughout the EU’s economic governance and now when abandoning the usual Semester process is even more important. National reform programmes and recovery and resilience plans cannot be prepared properly without employers and unions contributing to their design, implementation and monitoring. That’s why we ask the Commission to make sure that this happens through its country desks and by making this a condition for MS to get the funding.”