In her 2023 State of the Union address, Ursula von der Leyen presented the achievements of her tenure, and detailed the roadmap of what is to come for her Commission until the 2024 EU election.
CECOP welcomes the importance given to the re-industrialization and the strategic independence of European industries. Instability linked to spikes in energy prices, skilled workforce and supply shortages, and the efforts to rapidly achieve the green and digital transition are heavily impacting traditional industry sectors – including cooperatives. Given their key role in the EU’s supply chains, specific and targeted measures should be provided to enterprises in energy intensive sectors to support their green transition.
President von der Leyen is right; there needs to be a specific approach per industrial ecosystem that needs to bring all relevant actors to the table for the EU to provide tailer-made, effective support. As members of the EU Industrial Forum, CECOP looks forward to engaging with the European Commission on this matter.
The EU needs to guarantee that every job is a quality job. President von der Leyen welcomes the current high employment rates in the EU, but one cannot turn a blind eye to the increase in low quality jobs. Indeed, non-standard jobs are on the rise, and they offer very poor social protection coverage, high work instability. We recognize the importance of NextGenerationEU in particular toward green and digital jobs. However, quality jobs cannot be limited to a recovery and investment instrument, we also need appropriate legal frameworks guaranteeing quality working conditions and adequate access to social protection for all workers.
Moreover, we regret that President von der Leyen missed the opportunity to address social exclusion and poverty faced by many Europeans. Investment in quality social services and essential services is crucial. Challenges linked to the EU's ageing population and high demand for care cannot be seriously met without a strong European stance.
Worker and social cooperatives are ideal actors to achieve the vision announced by President von der Leyen and should benefit from an appropriate support and recognition at EU and national level:
- they guarantee quality jobs, including to vulnerable and non-standard workers;
- they invest in their workforce reskilling and life-long learning opportunities;
- they are at the forefront of social and technical innovation in Europe;
- by essence, they are deeply rooted in their communities and are one of the few industrial actors that is acting against deindustrialization and delocalization of European know-how and jobs;
- they ensure fair twin transitions.
CECOP calls the European Commission to keep high on the EU agenda until the end of this term the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Social Economy Action Plan and to propose a new tailor-made approach toward the industrial ecosystems.