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On 25 and 26 January 2022, the third workshop was held as part of the project “Contemporary challenges of Employee Participation. Against the negative results of COVID.” The workshop was organized using the ZOOM platform.
The main topic of the workshop was “European Green Deal” and “Smart Specialisation”. National reports from Lithuania and Estonia were presented at the meeting. Representatives from Romania and Spain reported on their experiences with the transition in their countries, pointing to examples of closures of metallurgical plants and difficulties in industrial conversion due to the EU’s reluctance towards natural gas. Lithuania has recently become an importer of electricity.
At present, it is impossible to predict in which direction the changes in the economic policy of countries will go, e.g. in the field of energy sources, sectors worth investing in the process of transformation. For many governments, uncertainty means inactivity. This increases the insecurity of workers and businesses.
Although the climate policy should be coherent, the current energy crisis makes it necessary to reintegrate carbon sources, despite their earlier reduction. The challenge is to conduct a policy that will allow the further development of countries and at the same time achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. It is about the balance between the policy leading to energy security and the desire to switch to the so-called clean energy.
Climate change instruments should be available to all citizens, not just to the wealthier (e.g. electric cars). Member States should also ensure consistency, for example in the area of recycling, and not allow the import of waste.
It was emphasized that the implementation of the European Green Deal would most significantly change the industrial sector. The services sector is incapable of employing industrial workers and not many new jobs are being created, although the European Commission is optimistic. The closure of mines is associated with the dismissal of a large group of employees, not all of them have the opportunity to retire.
Insufficient attention is paid to activation and improving the quality of employment, e.g. temporary contracts are offered to workers. Workers do not want to take up employment or emigrate. At the same time, employers complain about lack of hands. Jobs should be offered to workers in the region in which they live.
Labour market policy must take into account the gender dimension, women are less active and they are offered low-paid jobs. The age of workers is also very important.
Participants in the workshop stressed that the social partners should be involved in setting targets for the use of the transition funds so that the support instruments effectively support workers and investments serve the development of the regions. The social partners should have a greater say in decisions taken in the context of climate change, both at strategic (national and regional) and at company level.
The participants exchanged their experiences concerning the creation and implementation of smart specialisations. The discussion on the idea of managing the economy based on smart specialisation was preceded by a presentation.
It was also pointed out that events such as the COVID-19 pandemic might in some areas act more as a catalyst for innovation change than smart specialisation strategies. Examples are the changes in production in companies as a result of the pandemic and the spread of online services.
The choice of economic development must go hand in hand with increased investment in education, research and development. In many of the project countries, the funding for this is too low.
It was announced that an online meeting of the project partners would take place in March to summarize the project’s activities so far. The exact date of the online meeting will be communicated to the project partners in good time.