Use the crisis as an opportunity: Europe needs a strong plan for social and industrial recovery
“Rhetoric on stimulus packages is not enough. European leaders need a strong, confident and coordinated industrial programme and policy if we are to come out of this crisis able to cope with the challenges of environmental and social change.”
This is the key message that Peter Scherrer (General Secretary of the European Metalworkers Federation) will give during a high-level panel debate this afternoon, hosted by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the EMF. Commission Vice-President Gunter Verheugen and European Socialist leader Poul Nyrup Rasmussen are participating in the panel debate.
Günter Verheugen stated: "If we focus all efforts in responding to the current crisis on innovation and maintaining the skilled workforce, then European companies will even be able to improve their competitiveness. To achieve this, the top management needs to cooperate closely with the trade unions. These are key elements of our current industrial policy which need to be preserved".
With European leaders and their counterparts meeting in the G20 talks in London in the next few days, the EMF demands that time, energy and resources be dedicated to supporting manufacturing and its billions of workers worldwide, not just the banking system.
Manufacturing workers have found themselves victims of a crisis far from their making. Governments have handed hundreds of billions of euros to the bankers and have effectively told working people that they must pay the price for the crisis. Its seriousness is evident from the increasing numbers of redundancies, soaring unemployment rates and heightening social tension.
“The crisis must be used as a launch pad to promote a new model of economic development which promotes greater economic, social and environmental sustainability. A strong manufacturing base is fundamental to launching this model, and is dependent on the strong engagement of manufacturing workers in defining its future direction”, Peter Scherrer will argue.
To this end, the EMF has laid out a series of social and industrial measures needed to tackle the crisis and avoid depression, based on 4 key pillars:
1. Regulating financial markets and making sure taxpayers’ money reaches struggling citizens and companies promoting a balanced social market economy
2. Creating the foundations today for research and development, investment and incentives in sustainable production and consumption in the longer term
3. Avoiding a social recession and keeping a skilled workforce safe to be prepared for the recovery
4. Promoting a new model of corporate governance to pave the way for the sustainable development of companies and employment
This builds on the EMF’s industrial policy manifesto for the forthcoming European elections and appointment of a new Commission.
For more information, see the EMF's analysis of the crisis and manufacturing: