just-transition.info has asked all groups in the European Parliament for their position on Just Transition.
We will publish these responses in the order we get them (whether the groupings reply or not is also a sign of how much they care about a Just Transition).
Today, the Social-Democrats. The S&D Progressive Society Team answered in the name of the group.
JT: Is Just Transition a priority for your group?
S&D: Yes, it is. Just transition is a key priority if we want to achieve the new model of development that we, the S&D, are determined to pursue with all our political strength – the UN Agenda 2030. We believe that in order to fight inequalities while protecting our planet we must create a model for the many, not the few.
This is why in our “Progressive Society” initiative (www.progressivesociety.eu), which is entirely devoted to SDGs implementation in the EU, we pay special attention to “ecological transformation as a social lever” in coal-dependent regions. But not only. We have to fully address the social consequences (in the fullest meaning of the term social) of the transformation towards a decarbonised economy and society. We have to both anticipate and support / mitigate that process otherwise our own citizens might be tempted to resist this necessary change.
In the current mandate we have managed the get some important political breakthroughs. We are happy that the concept of “just transition” – which has been put forward by the trade union movement – is slowly finding its way through some very important pieces of legislation related to our climate and energy policy (such as ETS Phase IV, Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union, Regulation on electricity market design). But much more is needed.
JT: What measures would you like see taken at the European level in order to promote Just Transition?
S&D: Our PSE Manifesto for the 2019 election is not yet drafted. As the S&D Group in the EP, we believe that a Just Transition Strategy must be developed. It should rely on both legislative changes and ambitious financial means (a Just Transition Fund). We believe that we need to develop a strategy which is based on both anticipation of changes and mitigation/support to those people and communities who are affected. It should be very much anchored in the territories concerned and be as “inclusive”/open as possible.
JT: Do you support more money from the next EU Budget being used specifically to promote/ assist with Just Transition?
S&D: We are concerned with the lack of financial resources. We would like to see a clearly identified European Fund to support just transition, which would be both proactive (i.e. anticipating changes) and reactive (i.e. supporting those regions/ communities/ workers which have already embraced that transition).
In the negotiations for a future MFF, we would like to see a better use of Cohesion Policy money and of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in order to embrace a courageous and fair transformation of our economies and of our societies.
We sincerely regret that the EC did not have the political courage to put on the table a comprehensive, visible instrument accessible to all those who are undergoing this transition towards a low-carbon economy. That would have been such a powerful political signal to our citizens that Europe cares about their daily life and the challenges they are facing.
JT: Are you happy with the work so far of the Platform for Coal Regions in Transition?
S&D: We are happy that thanks to the political pressure put by some of our S&D Members, the EC tries to address a very urgent question, i.e. the future of coal mining regions. It is too early to say what will be the outcome of such an initiative and, as members of Parliament, we unfortunately do not take formally part in the Platform.
Some interesting initiatives seem to be supported, notably in the central and eastern European member states even if, according to those who are involved directly in the projects supported, there are some ambiguities. For example, do we simply want to phase out (and if so when) coal production or are we more ambitious and say that the EU should not produce nor consume coal?
Of course this will not and should not happen overnight but the question will have to be addressed at some point. The sooner, the better. Likewise, is the so-called “clean coal” a solution if we want to respect our climate and energy targets?
We are happy that, apparently, the launching of the Platform has triggered a high level of awareness among civil society, notably in some Member States where there is not yet a consensus that the business as usual scenario can no longer be followed.
Photo from Flickr by Jan Truter.