EU’s Mobility Strategy must step up its game in shaping socially and environmentally sustainable transport

9 Dec 2020

Transport workers are the sector’s “most valuable asset” reads the newly published Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, but proposed initiatives fall short in matching this statement. The European Transport Workers’ Federation, representing 5 million workers across all modes of transport, reiterates that to fulfil the goals of the Strategy and enable the transition to greener transport, it is essential to address social issues and foster worker engagement. Our detailed reaction is available here.

The European Commission’s Strategy, an initiative within the European Green Deal, will shape transport policies for years to come – with the intent to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. However, as pointed out by the ETF many times before, transport policies have never been able to succeed in achieving climate goals because they continuously put transport workers and their working conditions to the side.

2020 has been an extremely turbulent year for the transport industry and its workers. The Strategy aims to emerge from the crisis with a stronger and more resilient transport sector but leaves out the direct impact the pandemic has had on workers. Thousands of transport workers lost jobs due to lockdown measures, while thousands of others were burdened with additional work, stranded away from home, exposed to health risks or deprived of necessary facilities – many of these shortcomings were due to the cracks in transport policies and their lack of a social dimension.

“The Commission makes great strides in assessing long-term social issues in the transport sector, promising to consider strengthening the legislative framework on conditions for workers, as well as clarifying and enforcing applicable social rights. Regrettably, however, the action plan is void of details on how this commitment would be implemented,” said ETF General Secretary Livia Spera. “The document also states that providing higher social standards would contribute to the attractiveness of the sector, but it fails to provide concrete steps to accomplish this crucial objective.”

The transport sector cannot continue in the same vein, slipping further down the rabbit hole of policies fuelled by low-cost models, liberalisation and competition based on a race to the bottom.

What we need now is a concrete action plan to shape the future of European transport in a socially sustainable manner. The ETF will keep a close eye on the European Commission’s implementation of the Strategy to ensure that the workers are indeed treated as the sector’s “most valuable asset”.