EU leaders and social partners met at the tripartite social summit to discuss “tackling the energy crisis and the cost of living crisis: How to protect the economy, businesses and workers”. The summit participants intervened on the following issues:
- Assessment of the impact of the war on the current socio-economic situation
- Measures to tackle the energy crisis
- Economic and social support measures to tackle the cost of living crisis
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “The energy crisis is hitting everyone hard, workers, businesses and consumers alike. The increased cost of living is weighing on households that are already under strain. In these difficult times, the Commission has put forward targeted initiatives to reduce energy costs for families and businesses and provide energy security for this and coming winters. We need everyone on board and social partners play a key role.”
The President of the European Council Charles Michel commented: “The war in Ukraine and high energy prices are putting pressure on our families, businesses, and economies. So we need to act. The EU and its member states have already put in place some measures, but more needs to be done in the weeks to come. We count on the good cooperation with social partners to address today’s most pressing challenges, just like we did during COVID-19.”
From the side of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, the Prime Minister of Czechia, Petr Fiala, added: “Before the European economy was able to fully recover from the pandemic, the Russian aggression against Ukraine – Europe’s worst security crisis since the Second World War – triggered soaring energy prices and living costs. Russia’s actions pose a serious threat to the security and prosperity of the EU. As the presidency of the Council, we have reacted swiftly and effectively, in cooperation with the member states, EU institutions and social partners, to address the impacts of the war in Ukraine. We are working intensively on tackling the impacts of the war-driven energy crisis on our businesses and labour markets as well as on our social, health and educational systems. We have responded with unity, solidarity and resolve. Today’s summit demonstrates the importance of an inclusive social dialogue for strengthening the resilience of our economies and societies and for adopting measures which will be fair, balanced and well-targeted.”
The General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Luca Visentini, noted: “Millions of people across Europe are struggling to afford food, heating, and transport as a result of profiteering, particularly by energy companies, on the supply bottlenecks created by the war. That is putting many jobs at risk as prices for energy force industries to scale back production. This situation cannot be tolerated, and we need energy price caps and a windfall tax on excess profits to fund emergency payments for the poorest households as soon as possible. Some progress has been made but action needs to match the urgency of the situation if we are to avoid this crisis costing lives this winter. But the EU has so far overlooked two crucial solutions to this crisis: a second SURE scheme to save jobs in energy intensive industries struggling with the cost of energy and support for pay rises to meet the increased cost of living.”
BusinessEurope’s Director General Markus J. Beyrer, representing employers (BusinessEurope, SGI Europe, SMEunited), commented: “As energy bills are skyrocketing to levels never seen before, many enterprises, of all sizes, across the continent struggle for survival. There is a real danger that energy-intensive businesses relocate outside of Europe where energy prices are much lower, which would have dramatic consequences on our competitiveness and jobs. Locally active enterprises not able to relocate outside of Europe risk closing down with severe consequences for the economic networks, employment and cohesion, in particular in rural areas. Services of general interest must also withstand increasing pressures without damaging or interrupting the provision of essential services to citizens and businesses.
EU leaders need to agree urgently on new EU-wide measures to alleviate costs for European enterprises. If well designed, temporary EU-wide ‘price capping’ measures such as decoupling electricity prices from gas prices would effectively lower the bills without reducing incentives to save energy and improve energy efficiency. Adjusting the EU temporary crisis framework while maintaining a level playing field in the single market is equally important to grant much-needed aid to affected enterprises. On the labour markets, the key challenge ahead is to address in parallel the continuing need for improved skills matching, and the energy crisis’s impact on employment.”
The Tripartite Social Summit takes place twice a year ahead of European Council meetings. It is co-chaired by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and attended by the Head of State or Government representing the Presidency of the Council of the EU. It is an opportunity for a constructive exchange of views between the leaders of the European institutions with the leaders of European social partners and national employee and employer organisations of the current and upcoming Presidency countries (Czechia, Sweden and Spain), and the Employment and Social Affairs Ministers of these Presidency countries.
The views cited in this text are those of the individual / organisation concerned and do not collectively constitute the point of view of the European Commission.