EU leaders and social partners met, via video conference, at the tripartite social summit to discuss “a united tripartite response to the social and economic impact of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine”. The summit participants intervened on the following questions:
- How to ensure long-term investment, growth and employment in Europe, while addressing the impact of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine on energy prices, the economy and jobs?
- How to ensure a successful green transition for European workers and enterprises in this new context?
- What is the role of social dialogue to improve working conditions, the functioning of European labour markets and skills training post COVID-19?
The President of the European Council Charles Michel commented: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a ruthless attack on an independent and sovereign country. But it is also an attack on our values such as freedom, democracy and human rights. For the past month, we have risen to meet this historic moment, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Ukraine. A united tripartite response will also be crucial to address the enormous social and economic impact of this war. Governments, employers, employees – all coming together with one common and united response. I am sure that the contribution of social partners, as was the case during COVID-19, will again be essential in facing this new challenge.”
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “Europe is providing a safe haven for people fleeing Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. They deserve access to social protection, training and jobs and EU funding is available to help the member states that host them. At the same time, the war and the necessary sanctions against Russia come at a cost for our economy. We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact on energy and other commodities’ prices as well as on supply chains to support workers, businesses and consumers in these difficult times. This is a crucial moment and it is important that we all – social partners, member states and EU institutions – stand in unity and solidarity with those who need it most.”
From the side of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, the Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, added: “Within the Union we are committed to building a more sovereign, more resilient European growth model for the next decade. The challenges are significant and affect the sustainability of our social model, which is one of Europe’s unique strengths. We will not be able to address these challenges without a more rigorous social dialogue, at national and European level.”
The General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Luca Visentini, noted: “The ETUC condemns Russia’s murderous war on Ukraine. We call on the EU and member states to welcome all people fleeing Ukraine. We support their access to the labour market, housing, health care, education and welfare support. We demand that they are treated equally in the workplace and in society. The ETUC is itself helping to finance humanitarian aid by unions in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. We ask the EU and Member States to open a dialogue with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, to recognise them as candidate countries to the EU. We also call for measures to reduce the negative impacts on the EU of the war and sanctions, including EU funding to minimise the impacts of rising prices, and continuing COVID-19 emergency measures to support jobs and companies at risk due to this crisis.”
BusinessEurope’s President Pierre Gattaz, representing employers (BusinessEurope, SGI Europe, SMEunited), commented: “European employers strongly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The European Union must defend international law and support Ukraine and its people. Like many other actors, employers are taking concrete actions to provide humanitarian help and assist people fleeing combat zones. The EU’s global strength comes from its economic power. It is of utmost importance that the EU takes good care of its economy and cushions the secondary effects of this war (inflation, energy and raw material price increases and supply shortages, supply-chain disruptions). In particular, the European Union urgently needs to strengthen the internal EU energy market, diversify its energy supply sources and routes and provide an adequate framework to scale up the necessary public and private investments. While green deal policies are important parts of the answer, the EU also needs to acknowledge that a successful green transition also depends on realistic energy policies with feasible timelines. Involving social partners is essential when defining measures to support EU enterprises and workers and bring stability in these troubled times. The upcoming Commission’s social dialogue initiative is a golden opportunity to foster unity by improving cooperation between public authorities and social partners at EU and national levels.”
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