In this series of articles, EURACTIV explores the EU policies that aim to make the green transition a “just transition” for all the people despite the disruptions that it will entail.
In principle, the necessity of a rapid shift towards a greener economic model is accepted by a significant majority of political actors in Europe.
In principle, most governments also advocate for a “just transition” – though the definition of the term is slippery.
On an individual level, a “just transition” would mean that workers in carbon-intensive industries do not suddenly find themselves unemployed or forced to accept worse jobs.
As the transition can also affect whole regions – think of coal mining towns or regions with a strong network of companies around the car industry and the internal combustion engine – politicians emphasise that the consequences of the shift must be considered not only on an individual level but also on a regional level.
Moreover, there is the question of whether the new big companies in the green economy will also be good employers.
Another lever for a just transition might be found in the billions of public money that is being doled out in order to push the industry into a more sustainable direction. Will there be any strings attached to guarantee that this money is used in a way that also benefits workers?
At the same time, businesses lament Europe’s decreasing competitiveness, arguing for a more business-friendly environment. This begs the question: Can the EU even afford a just transition?
In a series of articles, EURACTIV will follow these questions with the aim of finding the specifics behind the flowery language.