ETF’s first reaction to the European Green Deal

11 Dec 2019

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) welcomes the European Commission’s Communication on the European Green Deal. As representatives of transport workers in Europe, we are perfectly aware that in order to mitigate climate change it is crucial to transform the transport sector. In this first reaction to the Communication, we want to highlight several issues that are crucial for transport workers.

As the ETF has been stressing for many years, climate and social sustainability are two sides of the same coin. We appreciate therefore that the Communication included a section on Just Transition and the proposal for the establishment of the Just Transition Mechanism. However, it is important to stress that the just transition approach shouldn’t solely focus on alleviating the negative impact of climate policies on workers. The transition should be designed with a human-centred approach to begin with, hence it is essential to include Social Partners in the development of transition strategies and policies that will also support the creation of quality jobs.

In addition, we welcome the initiative to boost multimodal transport solutions. However, by scrapping the proposal for a revised Combined Transport Directive, 92/106/EEC, the European Commission risks undermining the constructive cabotage proposals that are currently part of the Mobility Package 1. As the Council and the European Parliament are currently holding their last attempt to negotiate the Package under the Finnish Presidency it will add even more problems to a process that already struggles to reach a sensitive balance. In addition, we need to stress that the low-cost model present in the transport sector will hinder the transition to multimodality.

We also appreciate that the issue of transport cost is mentioned: this is a crucial issue  that is integral to making transport more social. But price has to be mentioned not only in relation to fuel, but also to labour. Modes that are using cheaper labour will always be favoured by the market for being just that: cheaper. We should aim for better transport, and not necessarily more transport. Fighting social dumping, enforcing regulations, reinforcing collective bargaining should be part of the strategy as it would strengthen the level playing field among the different transport modes. And for the same price, workers should not be made to bear internalisation costs.

We also welcome the Commission’s acknowledgment of the role of public transport in climate transition as we have been calling for the creation of a framework for sustainable public transport systems that provide a reliable service at an acceptable price to every citizen.

Finally, we support the pledge that the investments from the InvestEU programme will be subject to sustainability proofing that includes not only environmental, but also social criteria. This approach should be applied to all EU co-funded investments, and the social criteria should also cover the labour dimension.

The ETF will be keeping a close eye on the implementation of the Communication and will aim at ensuring that the transition to climate neutral economy benefits not only the planet, but also the workers.