Communication of the Commission on Europe 2040 climate targets: EPSU calls for a fair, social, inclusive initiative

banner Communication of the Commission on Europe 2040 climate targets

Markus Spiske / Pexels

(14 February 2024) EPSU welcomes the Communication of the European Commission on Europe's 2040 climate target, in which it recommends a 90% reduction of the EU’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The next Commission will submit a legislative proposal to make this target mandatory, as required under the EU Climate Law. 

EPSU calls for an initiative in line with the climate and social challenges ahead. A fair, social, inclusive transition must be at its core. To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, ambitious measures must be adopted, and there must be adequate European and national support for all citizens and workers. It is especially crucial that the European Green Deal considers the social and labour impacts of the transition if it is to convince people and workers in affected sectors and regions. The recent protests by farmers in Europe serve as a clear reminder. 

Amongst other issues, the EPSU is particularly concerned by the incompatibility of these new targets with EU plans to bring back austerity measures. Strong and ambitious climate measures can only be achieved with huge amounts of public investment. The economic governance review that is due in the coming days must provide for financial support in accordance with the climate and social challenges. Unfortunately, at the current stage of the negotiations, the agreement between the Council and the Parliament could lead to a €100 billion in cuts to public budgets, as the ETUC underlined. And this would lead to a lack of financial support for workers and citizens to cope with the changes, who will be, again, left behind during the green transition. 

The unsuitability of the current Just Transition Mechanism also must be pointed out. It is highly unlikely that such a tool can “make sure no one is left behind” when its scope of application is limited to regions highly dependent on coal, lignite, peat, oil shale and carbon intensive industries.

Ahead of the publication of the consultation on the targets, the European cross sectoral social partners were received by Commission vice-President Maros Sefkovic and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit. EPSU General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan, was part of the ETUC delegation. Important points raised included that the targets need to be socially fit for purpose, something many of current measures of the fit for 55 measures lack. The delegation also addressed the need for a better process of working with the EU level sectoral social partners to take their views into account. The unions and some employers raised concerns about the negative impact the reform of the economic governance rules can have on public investments in the greening of our society.  

This Communication promises to launch the debates with relevant stakeholders. EPSU will continue to ensure that public services workers voices are taken into account and will publish in the coming weeks its elaborate position on this important topic.