Joint letter to Ministers calling for an EU pJoint letter to Ministers calling for an EU policy framework for a just transitionolicy framework for a just transition

Just Transition, a call from 21 European networks and organizations

Tuesday, 19 March 2024

With a view to the Environment Council on March 25, under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Denis Stokkink, President of Pour la Solidarité, has co-signed a joint letter to the Ministers calling for a European political framework for a Just Transition.

The letter appeals to the Environment Ministers of EU member states as they embark on discussions and take decisions on the political agenda ahead.  The 21 signatory networks and organizations, members of the European Alliance for a Just Transition, representing and affecting several million people in Europe, aim to draw the Ministers' attention to the urgent need to prioritize a just and equitable transition, in particular through the development and implementation of an EU Just Transition policy framework.

The letter points out that the EU is at a historic crossroads, with wars on its borders, growing poverty and shocking levels of inequality, the erosion of public services at the heart of the social contract, and a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by high inflation. At the same time, extreme weather events are increasingly damaging our populations, economies and public finances, underlining the scientific and political case for ambitious action on climate and the environment.

The next EU cycle could mean polarization and growing disparities between countries, or it could offer a vision built with and for European citizens. Simultaneously achieving ambitious climate and environmental goals, promoting equity and fostering an economy that ensures the well-being of all within the limits of the planet is the solution to the daunting and intertwined geopolitical, social, economic and environmental challenges we face. This is precisely what the political framework for a just transition should be.

The European Economic and Social Committee's recently adopted opinion on Promoting a European just transition policy framework focuses on the benefits and opportunities of green transition, and provides valuable advice on the objectives, structure and content of a European just transition policy framework. In particular, the letter invites Ministers to consider the following key elements and measures in the development and implementation of such a framework: 

  1. Adopt a holistic, cross-sectoral and coherent approach to policymaking for a just transition.
  2. Transition from an economy dependent on limited material resources to one of sustainable prosperity, and adopt a European "Green and Social Pact" that anticipates, plans and implements the green transition in a transparent and participatory way, maximizing its economic and social benefits while ensuring that the necessary contributions are fairly distributed across society.
  3. Strengthen the European social model to protect the rights and well-being of workers, people in vulnerable situations (including racialized minorities, women and people with disabilities) and other marginalized communities increasingly affected by climate change, and to support them in the process of economic transformation. This can be done, for example, by adopting a European directive for a just transition of the world of work through the anticipation and management of change; integrating the European pillar of social rights into the European semester through a social convergence framework; supporting social enterprises adapted to the specific needs of disadvantaged workers; addressing skills shortages in critical sectors ; adopting a holistic approach to lifelong learning priorities and ensuring that learning, development and retraining programmes are accessible to all age groups, backgrounds and employment statuses; and providing access to high-quality, affordable and accessible services of general interest.
  4. Mobilize adequate public and private investment for just transition, starting by establishing an EU financing strategy for just transition with a new fund similar to " Next Generation EU " and increasing resources for territorially targeted transitions such as the Just Transition Fund. In addition, ensure that EU tax rules allow member states to allocate sufficient resources to promote just transition and achieve EU objectives.
  5. Guarantee social dialogue and collective bargaining, civil dialogue and the participation of regional and local authorities in decision-making on just transition.
  6. Provide public support for the considerable growth of social economy businesses and organizations, and community initiatives that intrinsically combine social and environmental objectives.

The organizations also call for a just transition policy framework that takes into account the external impact of Europe's green transition, as well as its historical responsibility, and ask the EU to support a just transition on a global scale.