Juraj Varga, President of the Council of Trade Unions of KOVO U. S. Steel Košice addressed Slovak MEPs ahead of important votes on the reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the proposed mechanism for cross-border regulation of carbon emissions (CBAM) to be held in the European Parliament this month. He pointed to the need for decarbonization and the investments associated with it in achieving climate neutrality, but this must not jeopardize the competitiveness of EU industry.
"On behalf of the trade union and tens of thousands of employees in energy-intensive industries of the Slovak Republic, I would like to raise our serious concerns about the ambitious ecological objectives of the EU set out in the European Green Deal and the Fit For 55 package," J. Varga writes in the letter. "Our rooftop trade union IndustriAll Europe and its affiliated trade unions in EU Member States support these ambitious green targets, but we believe that the priority of reforming the ETS and implementing CBAM must be to create an appropriate policy framework that triggers investments in European energy-intensive industries so that they can achieve climate neutrality by 2050 without economic viability. Doing without such investments in the short and medium term could have unintended consequences for the whole of European industry, society and, of course, for employees."
As Juraj Varga further points out, the Fit For 55 package brings the EU into a new phase of climate action, with regulatory constraints and costs not felt by any other economy outside Europe. These challenges come at a particularly difficult time for European industry and its employees, as the global situation leads to an energy crisis, due to soaring commodity prices and high inflation. At this time, it is not possible to gamble with the millions of jobs that are at risk, but the right policy mix must be found to accelerate the transition to a green economy without leading to negative employment consequences. Together with IndustriAll Europe, trade unionists in the metallurgical sector are also calling on other MEPs to support the interests of almost 8 million EU workers in energy-intensive sectors and to enforce demands to ensure a just transition towards a green economy.
The President of the Council of Trade Unions of OZ KOVO U. S. Steel Košice is also signed under the Joint Vocal Regional Call of representatives of the metallurgical industry trade unions of the Czech, Polish and Slovak Republics. It states: "We are very concerned about the results of the vote by the European Parliament's ENVI Committee on the EU ETS and CBAM, which would de facto prevent the decarbonization of the Czech, Polish, Slovak (and Union) metallurgical industries. IndustriAll must contact all MEPs before voting in plenary to draw attention to the problems with the ENVI proposal. Getting a sensible and realistic vote for the steel industry at the June plenary session must be a top priority for all trade unions in the EU. This is all the more important in view of the soaring energy prices and expensive emission allowances, which reduce the competitiveness of European steel and harm both employees and companies. The EU's path to decarbonization must be realistic, gradual, reflect the ambitions and actions of the world's largest emitters (China, the US, India, Russia) and must take into account employment and future prosperity."