Roundtable on European Public Investments for a Socially Just Transition

Federico Tomasone

Event Report

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On June 27, 2023, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Counter Balance organized a roundtable in Brussels on European Public Investments for a Socially Just Transition, bringing together labor unions, civil society organizations, and academics. The aim was to discuss the impact of EU public investments on energy, housing, public services, and industry and to facilitate dialogue on pressing issues in these areas.

The discussions began with a focus on the gap between the funds mobilized and the actual needs in the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). It was suggested that funds should be targeted based on criteria such as income, energy poverty, gender, and regions with higher levels of deprivation. Concerns were raised about the Renovation Wave’s varying approaches across Member States and some states failing to top up Just Transition funds.

Insights into the European Investment Bank (EIB) were provided, highlighting its financial reserves and the need for leveraging its capacity to invest in projects addressing social issues. The EIB’s reluctance to invest in specific projects, such as housing cooperatives, and its tendency to prioritize shareholder capital were discussed.

The participants engaged in a lively debate, covering various aspects related to public investment and the EIB. Concerns were raised about the treatment of people on the ground in Just Transition investments, the effectiveness of investment programs like the Juncker Plan and Invest EU, and the allocation of funds to sustainable projects.

The roundtable also addressed the political space for EU institutions to push the EIB for public investments and the importance of systemic changes. The lack of political coordination in building regeneration and more general in financing the recovery and social climate investments has been underlined. Additionally, conflicts of interest, and the need to involve trade unions and civil society in the process were highlighted. The participants emphasized the importance of tangible actions, practical approaches, and concrete proposals to achieve a just transition, focusing on social needs and environmental considerations.

Key proposals included developing tools to defend and provide sufficient public investments for a just transition, formulating implementation plans, stronger links with workers, and a wealth tax to finance social and climate needs. The mid-term review of the recovery fund, discussions on the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the upcoming new presidency of the EIB were identified as crucial political moments. Collaboration with organizations working on public investment and fiscal space was encouraged.

Participants recognized the potential for a more equitable and sustainable economic model that prioritizes people’s well-being. The roundtable concluded with a commitment to future cooperation and exploration of common positions and areas of collaboration.

Overall, the roundtable highlighted the need for targeted and socially just public investments, leveraging the capacity of institutions like the EIB, and aligning economic changes with social and environmental goals.

Roundtable on European Public Investments for a Socially Just Transition - Event ReportPDF file