European Gas Social Dialogue heats up: joint criticism of unbundling and impact assessment

This first meeting was opened by Jackie Morin of the European Commission (DG Employment) and responsible for the European social dialogue. The gas sector is the 34th sector with a social dialogue committee. The Commission welcomed the establishment of a social dialogue in this vital sector for the European economy.After election of the chair, adoption of the work prgramme and rules of procedure, the main issue of discussion was the package of energy measures as proposed by the European Commission (10 January) and the Conclusions and actoin plan adopted by the Council 9-0 March. Eurogas and the trade unions found each other in sharp critisicm of the proposals of the Commission on unbundlng as well as the impact assessment undertaken. According to the social partners the proposals on unbundling will have a negative effect on investment and hence on security of supply and investment. The social partners also agreed that the current impact assessment that is being undertaking falls way short of what the Commission is supposed to do. Method and contents were questioned. The new president of the social dialogue committee concluded that employment and social questions should have a more prominent place in the European energy package.

The importance of taking account of the social dimension was demonstrated by the presentation on the results of the European Commission employment study. Hundred thousands of jobs have gone, outsourcing has increased and little newemployment has been created. The study was presented by Anne-Marie Nevala of EcoTec.

The social dialogue committee will work further on the social implications of the European energy package and will draw conclusions from the study. Working groups will be establshed for this purpose.

The committee agreed that Mrs.Martine Ifflaender-Weber, HR director of GdF and chair of the Eiurogas social affairs group would chair the first year of the social dialogue committee. Peter Gentges of RWE Gas is the Eurogas vice-president. EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan is one of the viice-presidents on the trade union side. 40 representatives of employers and trade unions from 18 countries in the European Natural Gas Sector met for the first time 15 March 2007, Brussels.

- The EPSU press release is available here

- Rules of procedure and work programme: