Towards a just transition: 60th EPSU Utilities standing committee

EPSU Standing Committee on Utilities, 5 March 2024, Brussels

(14 March 2024)  The 60th EPSU Utilities standing committee meeting took place on Tuesday 5 March 2024. The committee discussed, amongst others, strategies to address the energy crisis, related green and social challenges and EU climate target for 2040.

The standing committee elected Donna Rowe-Merriman from Unison, UK as its new President, who will continue driving the work towards a just transition to net zero.

Affiliates shared their views on the reform of the EU electricity market, which regrettably remains ill-suited to the challenges ahead because of its market-based approach. The energy crisis has proven the incapacity of the European energy market to address the challenge of decarbonation and to ensure stable prices. The EU must make more far-reaching and systematic changes to respond to these issues.

The committee also discussed the upcoming EPSU 2024 Congress and exchanged on topics such as low carbon and renewables in the transition, agreeing that no transition can be achieved without social justice.

One of the main points of the discussion included exchanges on sectoral social dialogue in the gas sector. The standing committee voted in favour of the recently negotiated EU autonomous social partner agreement on a just transition, recommending that the EPSU Executive Committee now adopts it.

The EPSU secretariat presented its position on the  European Commission’s Communication on Europe’s 2040 climate target, underlining the following points :

  • Austerity measures will prevent the EU from meeting the 2040 targets.
  • Quality public services are crucial to achieving the EU’s decarbonisation efforts.
  • Social partners must be involved at both European and national, sectoral and cross sectoral level.
  • The evidence-based emissions reduction target must be accompanied by a dedicated Just Transition Directive.
  • Root causes of energy poverty are to be stronger addressed.
  • Companies that undermine the EU’s efforts to reduce emissions have to be held accountable.

The position was adopted unanimously by the standing committee, recommending that it is adopted by the EPSU Executive Committee.

The affiliates agreed on the importance to put pressure on EU Member States and EU institutions to adopt the Due Diligence Directive and stop the current ridiculous blockade.

Finally, the standing committee was the occasion to present the Recruitment and Organising team’s strategies in the utilities sector.