Whose deal is it really?

Call for a real, united labour-green front in Europe

Isabel Infantes/Getty Images

In 2019, an unprecedented surge of climate activism was swiping though Europe. As a result, the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen made climate action and a green transition the main priority for Europe. Soon after that, Covid-19 hit us, making the state the agent of change again and disrupting the European economy on an unprecedented scale. At the beginning some suggested that this disruption is good for the environment and make us humans pose and think whether all that consumerisms and travelling are good for us. After one year we know, that the disruption did not make much of a difference in emission reductions, and to the business as usual of global capitalism, in fact it made the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.

What Covid-19 meant for Europe? Small and medium size enterprises, entire sectors like tourism, hospitality and culture are seriously hit by the lockdowns, and with them hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods are on the line. It is also important to recognize, that the disruption of seasonal migrant labour makes regional inequalities and precarities even more deeper. At the same time, other sectors are seriously overstretched like social services, education and health care. Seasonal work in agriculture and weekend shifts in health care and social services are critical means for many Southern and Eastern Europeans to balance out the major pay gaps between their home countries and Western and Northern Europe. A recent Eurobarometer survey concludes, that about half of Europeans are concerned with the economic impacts, and fight against poverty and social inequalities is the top priority. Also, a significant amount of Europeans think that the EU is good, but it needs radical reform.

Some member states even suggested that the Green Deal should be taken off the table, as Europe will have to concentrate on rebuilding its economy ( as if the two were incomprehensible). And whilst this attempt was pushed back, there are major challenges with von der Leyens Green Deal, as it is far from ambitious and transformational, and opens many doors for greenwashing and the further monetization of nature. Saving jobs` can easily become the new excuse for the European elite not to take real action.

But the European Labour movement will most likely not be partner to this. There are no jobs on a dead planet has been a mantra of the International Labour movement since 2015, and this resonates with the daily realities of a growing number of workers in Europe. Hence, the European Labour Movement does not see climate action as a threat to their agenda, it knows that climate change is here, and actions against it will only create a resilient and caring society for the working Europeans, if they are part of the negotiating table. ETUC/ETUI has recently called for a new social and ecological contract to make the European Green Deal relevant for working Europeans.

With all what is behind us, and the unknown ahead of us, The European Labour movement rightly asks for clarification: whose deal is it? The climate movement can find a strong ally by joining this ask: Whose interest is business as usual? Who want to use the recovery process to save the broken system, exploiting nature and the majority of humans? We no that there is no real climate action without social justice, so indeed, where is the social and ecological contract that will guarantee a green and just transition for all?

Europe has to stop fueling the exploitative neoliberal monster and has to start working for its citizens. It is the moment to claim the European project back from the elite, fight together for a social and ecological contract that provides real solutions against climate change, a way out of growing inequality and the precarious existence, and builds a truly resilient European society.

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