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The new EU industrial strategy must be done for workers and with workers


11 Mar 2020


Social Europe & Jobs

The European Commission has set out its priorities and vision for the development of EU industry with today’s publication of the Communication ‘A New Industrial Strategy for Europe’.

Keeping and strengthening Europe’s industrial base and related jobs while decarbonising and digitising industry, is an absolute priority for industriAll Europe. Therefore, we strongly welcome that industrial policy has been brought up high on the policy agenda and we are looking forward to contributing to its implementation.

We also welcome that the social dimension is a key building block of the industrial strategy, notably with announced initiatives on skills and the set-up of a Just Transition Platform to support regions and sectors going through structural change.

It is now crucial that the Commission’s industrial ambition is not hampered by a business as usual approach” warns industriAll Europe’s General Secretary Luc Triangle. “Instead, we must see the necessary investment and a people-oriented strategy that focusses in equal measures on employment, training policies and worker participation.”

Industry must be a political priority for the EU

IndustriAll Europe underlines that industry is the backbone of the EU’s prosperity[1] and must be supported by a proactive industrial policy. “We welcome the fact that industrial policy is no longer seen as synonymous to free trade and market rules” states Luc Triangle.Decarbonising sectors such as energy-intensive industries or automotive will not happen with a target-driven and a market-driven approach. The EU and its Member States must create the conditions for the targets to become reachable.”

Proposed plans to decarbonise energy-intensive industries whilst protecting them from the risk of climate dumping (carbon adjustment mechanism), as well as initiatives to boost strategic value chains such as the Green Hydrogen Alliance are promising examples of an integrated and proactive industrial policy. Measures to better ensure trade reciprocity as well as the announced revision of the EU Competition Law should adequately complement this strategy.

It is about money

Serious investment is now needed to enable the decarbonisation and digitalisation of industry. “The current negotiations on the EU budget indicate that we are far away from a game changer budget. Workers need to know where the money that is needed to adapt their jobs to the world of tomorrow will come from and regions depending on heavy industries cannot be left behind” states Luc Triangle. The Just Transition Mechanism is part of the answer and upcoming state aids review or the macro-economic governance review must lead to certainty for investors and for workers as well.

It is about people

The industrial strategy must go hand in hand with policies to promote a qualified workforce and maintain the employability of workers.  Its success will also rely on employment stability and conditions. “Skills, training plans, including lifelong learning programmes are crucial but growing precariousness on our labour markets are certainly a major hurdle. There is no successful training policy without employment stability and good employment conditions” said Luc Triangle.

Finally, because of the important social implications, workers participation in the industrial strategy is of key importance. The strategy must allow workers to anticipate change, to be adequately informed, and to have their say in decisions about their fate. “In this respect we welcome the Commission’s call for a renewed partnership between decision-makers and social partners as well as the launch of the ‘Industrial Forum’. We hope we can contribute to the implementation of the strategy based on concrete progress reports and key performance indicators. This is not only a matter of social fairness, democracy and rights but this is also a matter of long-term economic performance”.   


[1] Manufacturing and energy sectors represent, all together, 36 million of direct jobs, each of them generating at least 1 additional job in services. Those sectors provide 75 % of EU exports and 65 % of EU R&D investment. They also generate fiscal revenues that are vital for public authorities as well as for welfare systems across Europe.