EU Energy Strategy – social dimension

EU energy ministers adopted an energy strategy on 18 October. The unions have been critical as the strategy does not have a social dimension. They were concerned that further integration and market opening of the electricity and gas markets will have a negative impact on employment. The document does foresee that prices for domestic users will increase thus throwing more people into energy poverty, but does not say how this should be dealt with. A social strategy is therefore necessary. The Ministers have now agreed with EPSU energy unions. Two key paragraphs from the conclusions:

14. The Ministerial Council adopted the Energy Strategy of the Energy Community, and welcomed the interest of the civil society towards the development of the Energy Community Strategy as reported by the Presidency in Office, the EU and the Secretariat. The ministers emphasized on the importance of transparency and agreed that the civil society representatives should be appropriately consulted in the follow-up work.

EPSU and a network of environmental NGOs in the countries concerned had argued that a more open process of consultation is needed, worth the name. And:

18. The Ministers noted the information on the outcome of the Social Forum and welcomed the Secretariat’s initiative for developing a Social Strategy of the Energy Community. They invited the Secretariat, in cooperation with the social partners, to prepare an outline of a Social Strategy for discussion and eventual adoption at the Ministerial Council meeting in 2013 upon debate at the PHLG.

The Ministers also agreed renewable energy targets and considered energy efficiency standards that should help the region climb to European levels. Both will have consequences for jobs and skills.

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